Unit 1 A Courtesy Campaign Script
Nearly half of all American adults have wireless telephones. People are buying them at a rate of 46,000 a day. The rise of portable phones has been accompanied by a rise in complaints about mobile phone manners. A few cities have passed laws restricting their use. But San Diego‟s trying
a different approach, appealing to cell phone users with a courtesy campaign. From member station KPBS, Scott Horsley, reports.
It seems to be happening more and more, in restaurant, movie theaters, even in church.
When it comes to the shrill interruption of a ringing cell phone, no place it seems is sacred.
Well, if we‟re in the middle of prayer and meditation, I usually just ignore it. And I may make a comment afterwards, something like, “Well, you know, maybe the spirit of God is truly calling
us and wanting our attention.”
Not everyone is as forgiving as Reverend Wendy Craig-Purcell of San Diego‟s Church of
Today. And not everyone views the cell phone as an instrument of divine intervention. When San Diego Mayor Susan Golding conducted an Internet survey last year, thousands of people responded calling for restrictions on cell phone use, especially in movie theaters.
I know that I‟ve been in the movies. And it‟s at that quiet time when everyone‟s on the edge
of their seat and the phone rings next to you and the person starts to talk in a very loud voice.
But rather than propose regulation, Mayor Golding has launched a voluntary courtesy campaign, urging wireless phone users to mind their mobile manners. The campaign includes stickers that businesses can display, reminding customers they‟re in a quiet zone. The mayor
herself posted a sticker outside one movie theater as Doug Cohen looked on in approval. Cohen is a real estate broker whose own cell phone gets plenty of use, but he agrees there ought to be limits.
I have very good friends that I won‟t eat lunch with. They just can‟t get away from it. So
it‟s…there‟s an etiquette. It‟s just like driving or anything else, you know. Some people will
subscribe to a certain politeness and some people won‟t. But it‟s nice that there‟s an issue being
San Diego might seem like an unlikely place to raise the issue of rude cell phone use since the cell phone industry is one of the city‟s biggest employers, with companies like Qualcomm and
Nokia. But Nokia is actually sponsoring the mayor‟s courtesy campaign. Vice President Larry
Paulson says customers should set their phones to „vibrate‟ rather than ring in certain settings, and
sometimes even turn their telephones off.
Certainly, I think that everyone agrees with this. In certain public areas such as movie theaters, plays, churches, museums, and libraries, talking can be very disruptive and, essentially, it‟s a violation of basic courtesy.
Cell phone companies realize a public backlash isn‟t good for their business. And with
communities in Ohio and New Jersey already banning cell phone use behind the wheel, the industry may see a courtesy campaign as a way to head off further government regulation, like the beer companies urging their customers to drink responsibly.
Instead of a strict enforcer, Mayor Golding hopes to play a gentle Miss Manners. The real Miss Manners, newspaper columnist Judith Martin, thinks that might work better, anyway.
If you use the heavy hand of the law for everyday trivial things, you create the state where everybody is angry at everybody else, where the courts are clogged up. This is a very simple thing we‟re talking about: don‟t disturb people, you know. Don‟t talk at the movies. Don‟t talk in the
phone in the movies. Don‟t talk to the person next to you in the movies.
Martin says it‟s not unusual when new technologies develop for people to believe they‟re in
an etiquette-free zone. But gradually, a consensus develops about how the tools should be used. With cell phone, she says, we‟re halfway there. People agree that others shouldn‟t annoy them
with their phones, but they don‟t necessarily apply the same rules to themselves. That will be the challenge, as Mayor Golding demonstrated during a news conference kicking off her courtesy campaign.
I think we will influence a great number of people to stop and think.
For example, mine is ringing right now. But I think we will influence a lot of people to turn off their cell phones or to put them on „vibrate‟.
Clearly, there are places…and this doesn‟t even hang up well. But because…I want to be
courteous and not answer it during this press conference.
The Mayor later explained that hers was a new phone, and she hadn‟t figured out all the
settings. She got a quick lesson from the Nokia vice president in how to turn off the ringer. For NPR News, I‟m Scott Horsley in San Diego.