Why Do People Feel the Need to Shout Into Their Cell Phone?

A few weeks ago I was riding with a friend in his car, a 2000 Lexus something or other. It’s a nice car, very quiet; not much noise makes it to the cabin from the road. At one point in the ride we’re chatting, talking normally, when all of a sudden he gets a phone call.

“Hello?” he says at what seems to be the top of his lungs. He continues, “Hey, buddy! How are you?… Yeah… Hey, that’s awesome. Listen, I was talking to…”

As he’s talking I figure something must be going on with either the phone, the road, or the person at the other side of the conversation because his voice is getting increasingly louder… and louder… And Louder With Every… WITH EVERY SENTENCE. It wasn’t too long before I simply had to cover my ears, just so I wouldn’t go deaf.

If this had been an isolated incident then I would simply presume that maybe there was something wrong with the cell phone. Or maybe the cell phone was just that good. After all, the car was very quiet, even though we were driving at almost 80mph down an asphalt road. But this wasn’t the first time I heard this person do this. I’d heard him do it indoors, outdoors, in cars, in soundproof anechoic chambers — everywhere.

Here’s what really gets me: he’s not the first person I’ve seen do this. Other friends have done it, I’ve seen family do it, and of course, I’ve seen total strangers doing it. Did I ever tell you about the time I overheard someone’s conversation two cars away?

Seriously, what’s the deal? Do these people believe that they have to talk louder on a cell phone because the receiver on it sucks? Do they normally only talk to almost-deaf people? Or do they just assume that since there are no wires you have to talk louder so your voice carries through the air? It’s like the kid who, after seeing all the other kids with cups and strings, “phoning” each other, brings two cups and and calls it a cell. “How does the sound go across?” the teacher asks. The kid gives a cup to her and yells into the other, “LIKE THIS!”

*Urgh* Anyway, that’s the end of my short rant. Sorry, but I had to get this out. Maybe it’s a Florida thing and you won’t be able to relate. You know, the whole old-people-crawling-here-to-grow-older-and-die phenomenon. Any readers in Arizona? You probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

8 thoughts on “Why Do People Feel the Need to Shout Into Their Cell Phone?

  1. You overheard someone’s conversation TWO CARS AWAY?! That’s ridiculous! 🙂

    I’ve never seen people who speak very loudly on the phone, but what I don’t understand is why some people blast their car radio to the max. I mean, don’t they feel the pain in their ears? I’ve heard somebody’s radio two cars away, and I had all my windows wound up!!

  2. You may want to read this (regarding car stereos). I know exactly what you mean, since it’s so painfully rampant down here. It’s like they’re not happy just putting themselves through the pain they call music, but instead feel it their duty to make sure we all suffer along.

  3. i myself have yelled into a cell phone i dont know why i did it i guess i thought if i yelled i could hear the other person better =]

  4. Manufacturers of cell phones design their phones to be as enery efficient as possible, and one of the things they do to save battery power is reduce the sound of the users voice in his own earpiece. This causes him to talk louder than he would on a land line telephone.–Larry Rueff

  5. @Melissa: You gotta wonder, with everything people are putting to their ears these days — cell phones, ear buds, the eternal misplaced Qtip — where will hearing aid technology be in 30 years?

    @Larry: I can see that having been a problem in the early days of cell phones, where companies charged a dollar a minute and you had to carry a backpack for the battery, but in the newer cell phones I don’t see battery drainage caused by speaker volume as being much of a problem. Could it be that people (or designers) are just going on habit, yelling into their new phone because their old phones were too quiet, or designing phones with quieter ear pieces because that’s just the way things have been done? (And then adding video games which use up most of the processing power and kill the battery.)

    Thanks for the thoughtful response!

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