I have seen both of these phenomena, although I don't have anything against either of them per se.

That was a joke, son.

The Mobile Phone Syndrome (i.e. automatically telling the person who called you where you are, even without being asked) is something I have witnessed on countless occasions. It is such a common thing that I had not really thought about it until reading this node - and am probably even guilty of it myself.

Now, having spent some minutes thinking about it, I think I have a reason: we (as mobile phone users) are not yet comfortable with this mobile telephonic communication lark, having had less than 20 years to get used to it. The reason is this:

when someone calls us on a mobile phone, we are aware
that they cannot imagine where we are or what we're doing.

Subconsciously we wish to help others to visualise us by furnishing them immedietly with details of our environment. Hence the unprompted "I'm in the car / on the train / walking down the high street."
It's an ego thing.

Perhaps once we grow out of the idea of telephone conversations happening with the other person always occuring in a set location, this "Syndrome" will cease to be evident - with perhaps the exception of the very old, who may never grow out of their bad habits.

To test this theory, from tomorrow I will be attempting to ask some young mobile-phone-owning children - who have pretty much grown up around mobile phones - how they answer the phone. The two problems with conductiong such a study are:

  1. I'll probably get arrested or beaten up for talking to young kids
  2. Kids with mobiles only ever seem to phone their friends who are hanging around the same street corners and parks as them, and so are often within their line of sight. This means they may not bother imparting this redundant information.

Actually the Mobile Phone Syndrome you describe is quite easily explained in my experience. I am a happy mobile phone user myself, as are most of the UK population. (fact).

When I receive a call, I almost never tell people where I am voluntarily. The thing is, they always ask. This seems to be due to the fact that the background noise, coupled with the exquisitely sensitive microphone on my and many other phones, makes it sound like I am always in a war-zone or school playground. This also means I don't need to shout into my phone. Just because Dom Joly does a parody of it, doesn't mean everyone does it, especially in quiet locations.

When someone phones me therefore, they usually ask "Where are you?" and so I answer: "walking down the street", "in the pub", "on the train" or whichever noisy place I happen to be.

I'm sorry if other people having private conversations pisses you off, but you shouldn't be listening anyway. Not everyone shouts on the phone, so why is talking on the phone more obnoxious than talking to someone else?

Wrong numbers are a doorway to a surreal hell.

Amost all cell phones automatically record the numbers dialed for outgoing calls and more and more have Caller ID as a standard option to catch the incoming calls as well.
In the past when you made a wrong number it was answered and you say "Oh, sorry" without ever knowing the exact mistake you made. Or no one answered and you just assumed you dialed the right number and went on about your merry way.
Those carefree days are come to an end, my friend.

On one occasion I recieved a call from a 19 year old that lived in northern Nashville. She asked for Steve. I told her Steve wasn't there and that she had a wrong number. She apologized and hung up.
"Wait," you say, "How do you know she's 19 and from Nashville?"
She called back. Apparently she couldn't get a hold of Steve, the area code is a pretty small geographic area, and she thought I had a nice voice... so she was wondering...
Yeah. Exactly. I was no where near Nashville at the time, so it never really became an issue. She called me several more times over the next few days and I even got to speak to the elusive Steve on the last occasion. I can only assume Steve realized how weird it was and put an end to it.

On several occasions I have played telephone tag with total strangers over missed calls / wrong numbers.
The odd thing is when you make the initial wrong call and realize your mistake, even though no one answers. Later you find that you've gotten a call back. You know it's a wrong number. Do you just ignore the issue and leave them wondering or do you call them back just to say "Hi, I called you a couple days ago, but it was a wrong number." or what?

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