Changing mobile habits
Is it just me, or are people starting to use their mobile phones differently these days? I don’t mean in the ‘we’re not using them as phones anymore’ sense, either. More and more, I’m seeing people walking around with them not pressed up against the side of their heads (where regular humans have their ears) but held parallel to the floor, with the user speaking very loudly into the bottom. Sometimes, the user is wearing earbuds, sometimes not.
Phone mics are sensitive enough to pick up your voice from where the device should be held — against your cheek — and don’t require that you hold them like a plate and scream at them. If phones did require that the mic be that close to your quivering lips, they would be as long and unwieldy as the telephones of old — you know, the ones without screens and with the twirly cords that you couldn’t take with you more than a metre. Why are people using their phones this way? Is it truly a belief that their voices can be picked up more accurately, or is it some hip new thing I’m too old to understand? [ GEOFF HUTCHENS]
Ed replies: We reckon this actually makes sense in instances where someone’s wearing earphones, as otherwise the phone can push against them and cause pain in your ear — although if those headphones also have a mic (which is increasingly common these days), then you can put the phone in your pocket because its mic will actually be completely switched off. People holding their phones like this while on speakerphone, however, is a new one to us — we don’t think we’ve ever seen it in the wild before. Perhaps they’re being extra cautious about protecting their head against exposure to the small amount of radiation that our mobiles emit? Even though there’s never been hard scientific proof that phone radiation increases the chance of cancer, there’s enough people who remain sceptical about it to support an industry of stickers and phone cases that claim to be able to protect against it. (And in fact, compared to the efficacy of those products, holding your phone away from your head is probably a more sound strategy — a small sticker whacked on the back of your phone isn’t somehow going to soak up all the radiation it emits.)
IF PHONES DID REQUIRE THAT THE MIC BE THAT CLOSE TO YOUR QUIVERING LIPS, THEY WOULD BE AS LONG AND UNWIELDY AS THE TELEPHONES OF OLD — YOU KNOW, THE ONES WITHOUT SCREENS AND WITH THE TWIRLY CORDS THAT YOU COULDN’T TAKE WITH YOU MORE THAN A METRE.