Lifestyle

An Open Letter to People FaceTiming in Public

Published On 10/16/2015 Published On 10/16/2015
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Hi, I know I don't know you, but the thing is, I was kind of hoping to keep it that way. And when you're out in public, holding up, and shouting at, your smartphone, it makes it that much harder to ignore you. Especially since your FaceTime/Skype/video chat function is on. Unlike the old days, now we hear both sides of your conversation and get to see the kind of lunatic who wants to talk to a public video-chatter like you. 

Perhaps you were under some mistaken belief that I -- or, indeed -- everyone in this Starbucks, needed more of you in our lives. I'd love to disabuse you of that notion, and I tried to by telling the barista my name was "Kill-This-FaceTiming-Woman." And while it's true they misspelled it and shouted out an order for "Kalista Roman," you wouldn't have heard it anyway because you were busy voice-projecting at your chat buddy all the hilarious things Abbie told you about Leon. The point is, everyone here would love it if you just drank your skinny latte and checked your texts like a normal human being.

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I can hear you now. "Why don't you mind your own business?" (I'm also hearing you say, "Despite this angry open letter, I find you strangely attractive. Have you been working out?" But let's not get off topic here. Also, thank you, yes, mostly abs.) We can't mind our business. We used to hate the loud cell phone talker -- the man or woman barking into his cell phone in a closed space. If you were chatting away in a store or bus or train the only words that should have been audible were, "I can't really talk now," followed by rushed, quiet tones. And some people were polite about their conversations like that. But you can't be polite because you're projecting your voice into the mic, we're hearing both sides, and we see who you're looking at.

Trust me, we're not eavesdropping; you're creating a public spectacle. If you're FaceTiming in public, you should have the same expectation of privacy as a someone setting a baby seal on fire in the middle of a Walmart. Which is to say, zero. None. No privacy. So stop doing it. (Public FaceTiming or setting seals on fire, actually.) Try showing a little common courtesy to everyone around you instead of expecting the world to practice better ignoring skills. People who wear patchouli can't get mad at the rest of the world for having the ability to smell.

And by the way, I didn't mean to imply you're a woman. I mean, of course you are, Starbucks lady, but I'm talking to everyone who publicly FaceTimes -- male or female. And I have to ask, what exactly is your data situation? Because some of you guys aren't just sucking up coffeehouse bandwidth. I've seen you FaceTiming on a crowded city streets. Who uses up data just to create the magic of moving, selfie-angle conversations? Or maybe it's not about showing off your face. Maybe you just like increasing your odds of getting into a pedestrian accident. Stepping on a small child, perhaps? Oh, wait. Is that what happened? Did you get hit by a car while walking out into traffic during a FaceTime? That would explain the neurological injury that made you think public video chats were a good idea. Or if you got a cash settlement from that accident, it would explain how you pay your unlimited-data phone bill.

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Wait. Have I got this wrong? Maybe you're not indifferent to the plight of the rest of us who have to hear and see both sides of your personal communications. Maybe you want us to hear. Have the years of reality television convinced you not only that anyone can be a star, but that everyone should be? If this is your attempt at your own mini reality show may I suggest a really good title would be The Person Who Had No Idea What Would Make A Really Good Reality Television Show. No? What's that? You have a better idea? The Amazing FACE-Time? Wow. I wasn't being serious. What is wrong with you?

But maybe I got this backwards. Maybe it's not that you're trying to share your life with us, so much as trying to show the person you're talking to a little more about your surroundings. Yeah, bad idea. I'll save your buddy some time. You're sitting in a Starbucks where everyone hates you. Or a train. Or a public street. It really doesn't matter. We all hate you. Everyone. 

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Gladstone is a New York-based writer and author of the Internet Apocalypse series of novels on Thomas Dunne books. Follow him on Twitter: @wgladstone.

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