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Notably Quoted

It’s good for an artist to try things. It’s good for an artist to be ridiculous.
Sheila Heti in How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life (p. 18)

« Baby Boomers: Citizens Not Seniors | Main | Maximum Multiplicity »

The Society for HandHeld Hushing (SHHH!)

As far back as July 2006 I started talking about my aversion to noise, particularly the annoying cell-phone-user variety. I continually ask myself the question: where do I have to go, what, dear god, do I have to do, to get away from these inconsiderate, loudmouth assholes?

I’m sick. I’m tired. I’m totally frazzled with the “cell-phone voice” that seems to be everywhere. For example, say I’m in the local Starbucks (as I was just today), quietly sipping my cup of tea and reading a book, with the normal background hum of voices and activity. Then, a person a table or two away takes or makes a call, and before I even look up to confirm, I know that voice. Geez, it’s somebody talking on their damn phone. Of course it is. It’s happening all around us! Does she really think I care if she’s running late? Or that he’s hungover? Or that her sister is sick? Or that her husband-boyfriend-significant-other doesn’t “get” her? Or that his college won the big game yesterday? Or that, woe is me, the Dow lost 130 points last week? Or that she thinks “like, you know, whatever…”?

Tell me: how could I possibly give a rat’s ass?!

Well, I don’t.

But, enter: HOPE.

I recently discovered what I think is a “must-have” piece of modern technology: the cell-phone jammer. In a newspaper article last week entitled “Cell-Phone Jammers Can Zap All The Yap,” I learned of these wondrous little (often extremely small and portable) devices. I don’t need to go into how these things actually work, since, if you’re interested, you can read up on that yourself. Suffice it to say that, for not much money, you too can own a gadget that can zap the signal of cell phones in your immediate vicinity.

Think of yourself on a bus or commuter train, in the doctor’s waiting room, in the theatre, or, like me, in the coffee shop: and having actual control over the airspace! You just push a button and, whammo! …instant impotence (technologically speaking) for that useless, harebrained cell-phone user!


Of course, there happens to be a down side, as use of these miracle tools just happens to be against the law. Alas, cell-phone jamming is covered under the Communications Act of 1934, which prohibits us from “willfully or maliciously interfering with the radio communications of any station licensed or authorized” to operate. In fact, the “manufacture, importation, sale or offer for sale, including advertising, of devices designed to block or jam wireless transmissions is prohibited” as well.


So, given this, of course I’m not advocating that you go out and buy one of these things. It just wouldn’t be right, would it? I would never, ever endorse any kind of illegal activity here on my website. That would be terrible of me!

So, how about if I suggest an alternative that IS totally legal?

It just so happens that I’ve discovered another way to start fighting back. I’ve become aware of a method that is neither illegal nor surreptitious, but, rather, totally above-board…and just may win the hearts and minds of those around you.

I suggest you go to the website introducing you to the (unfortunately fictional) Society for HandHeld Hushing (SHHH!). Once there, you will find a pdf file which you can download and print out that will furnish you with some little “business cards” you can cut up and hand to those loudmouths on cell phones.

Imagine yourself, if you will, handing a modestly-sized nicely-printed card to someone stating that:

The Rest of Us DON’T CARE What He Said To You.


The World Is A Noisy Place. You Aren’t Helping Things.




Dear Cell Phone User: We are aware that your ongoing conversation with (fill in the blank) is very important to you, but we thought you’d like to know that it doesn’t interest us in the least. In fact, your babbling disregard for others is more than a little annoying.

or, simply:


Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? …the silence, that is.

Soundtrack Suggestion

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

(“The Sounds of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel)

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