Anyone who can remember life prior to cell phones can probably remember making fun of any person seen walking or driving around, having a conversation when there was simply no one else there. It was called “talking to oneself,” and it usually produced a humorous response in onlookers,as they imagined the person to be slightly misguided, at best. Not too long after the proliferation of cell phones, the technology of Bluetooth came along, giving rise to an onslaught of people everywhere carrying on lengthy conversations to unseen others, much in the same fashion as before Bluetooth, with the only difference being that mostly everyone understood that the person seeming to have a one-way conversation was in fact, justifiably conversing with a real, live person on another phone somewhere.
With the eventual understanding and embracing of Bluetooth technology, just about anyone who is out and about these days has learned to disregard anything said by anyone in their immediate vicinity, which alludes to the fact that we all have been trained to think that if anyone is speaking out loud, it’s obviously to someone else. This leads to a whole different set of problems when the person is actually talking to you, but can’t manage to convince you of the fact because you think they’re talking to their headset or Bluetooth.
If you happen to be among the few of us still left who (out of politeness,) try to respond to the comments made by others who are nearby, you’ve obviously experienced at least one occasion of embarrassment when you misinterpreted that the Bluetooth comment was intended for your ears and kindly responded. For example, say you’re standing in a checkout line, somewhat absorbed in your own thoughts when the nice woman standing directly behind you says,”Hi there… and how are you doing today?” or some comment that could easily be interpreted as a friendly greeting, and before you know it, you’ve turned around and responded with something to the effect of “Oh, I’m fine, and how are you?” to a woman busy talking away on a Bluetooth device. Red-faced, you turn back around, trying to act nonchalant as best you can, while feeling a big foolish.
At the risk of our society becoming altogether disconnected from each other, we all may end up always ignoring comments made by others around us, which would, on one hand, be wise, and on the other hand, be sad. Maybe we could come up with some type of technology that would allow us to instantly differentiate between phone conversations and remarks made directly to us.
So far, that technology does not exist, and so we will just have to wait to check out the speaker’s intent before we offer a friendly response.