The sounds of silence are dependent on location, as a survey on mobile etiquette by Cingular Wireless examined whether respondents were cognizant of public surroundings when their phones rang, with some geographic regions acting more politely than others.
The survey revealed that the majority of respondents weren’t likely to answer a ringing phone while having a face-to-face conversation with a business associate but only by a slim margin: 61 percent. The most considerate phone users in this situation were found in Phoenix, Denver, Tucson, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Mesa, and Colorado Springs.
Face-to-face time with friends seemed less important, particularly in the South Atlantic cities of Jacksonville, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Virginia Beach, Atlanta, and Miami where 42 percent said they were very likely to answer while conversing with friends or relatives. However, residents in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbus, Milwaukee, and Cleveland say they are least likely to answer their cell phones while having a face-to-face conversation with friends or relatives.
The survey of more than 500 mobile phone owners and users, conducted by V&L Research & Consulting Inc., revealed that 42 percent of respondents moved to a designated area when receiving calls in a public place. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of respondents felt they weren’t likely to speak loudly on their cell phones, leaving the remainder to annoy others with their private conversations.
The melodious ringers are often turned off in certain settings, the survey found, with some U.S. regions displaying more likelihood to do so than others:
- Residents in the Western region — California, Oregon, Washington — are more likely to disable the ringing feature of their cellular phones while in libraries, movie theatres, restaurants, and classrooms or schools.
- People in the South are most likely to set their cellular phones to silent or vibrate or turn off their phones upon entering church.
- When entering a business office or bank, cellular users in the Mid-Atlantic (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania ) and South Atlantic (District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia) areas are more likely to turn their ringers off.
- South Atlantic residents more frequently disable their ring feature when entering a museum or concert hall.
- Hospitals are more likely to be considered ring-free venues in the Mid-Atlantic, Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming) and Western states.
- Those in the East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) or the Mid-Atlantic states are most likely to change their ring options upon entering a retail store.
“It’s just common sense to show respect to others in places of worship or where we gather for music and movies. A retail store is a busy place where people are having public conversations. A chat on your cell phone is more appropriate in that case,” said Mark Feidler, Cingular Wireless chief operating officer.
A related Harris Interactive survey, commissioned by AT&T Wireless, examined the attitudes of adult wireless phone subscribers in the U.S. towards cell phone use in public, and found it to be a study of contradictions.
The overwhelming majority (86 percent) claim they rarely or never engage in discourteous phone usage, yet just over half (51 percent) believe that other Americans are somewhat or very discourteous when it comes to using their wireless phones.
The survey also revealed that 80 percent of respondents think the use of the vibrating ringer makes wireless phone use in some situations more acceptable, and 73 percent think letting calls go to voicemail can have the same impact. However, 50 percent have never set a ringer to silent or vibrate, and 45 percent don’t use voicemail.
More than 6-in-10 (62 percent) of respondents reported that they bring their phones everywhere, while 38 percent say that leaving home without their phone is equivalent to not brushing their teeth, and more dramatically, 15 percent say that they feel naked without their cell phones.