Monday, November 5, 2007

We're Jammin'

Have you ever stood next to a person, relaying all his personal, financial and medical problems on the phone? The same person who later wouldn't reply if you ask them to their name, but somehow wouldn't mind divulging their Social Security Number on the phone next to you? The person the term TMI (Too Much Info) has been coined for?

Well, some people have had enough. These vigilantes carry cell phone jammers and joyfully press the red button whenever someone speaks too loud next to them, or offends their sensibilities.

A jammer is a tiny device, no bigger than a pack of cards, that emits a strong radio signal, breaking the phone's connection with cell towers. A typical small device has a radius of 30 feet (10 meters), but bigger devices can be used to jam every phone in a restaurant, or a theater.

Jammers are of course illegal in the US (up to $11,000 fine for a first offense), but the owner of, a site specializing in jamming devices, claims he ships about 400 units a month to the US.

Beside the obvious point, where each one of us would have liked to have such a device and wield the Power of Disconnection over our neighbors, there's the moral (invasion of privacy), illegal (a call costs money), and the fact you basically disrupt everyone in your effect radius. Add to that the fact that you've just lowered yourself to the level of that person: he disturbed you - now you disrupt him - kinda childish, no?

So while I'd like nothing more than to have some people shut up, I'll continue observing their basic rights to pollute the air with their noise, until such time that common courtesy comes back into fashion.

Read more about jammers in this NY Times article. (If it requires a password to read the site, refer to this post).

PS: speaking of people who are oblivious to the fact everyone around them can hear them, have you ever noticed how people in cubicles behave as if they're alone in a room, and not just surrounded by 3 cardboard walls?

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