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stage-phoning also stage phoning

noun [uncountable]

the activity of talking on a mobile phone in an animated and deliberately audible manner, especially in order to impress people

stage-phoner

noun [countable]

'He may engage in what researcher Sadie Plant, author of the Motorola report, refers to as "stage-phoning", in which the caller is effectively performing for innocent bystanders … In extreme cases, performance may, in fact, be the entire point of the call.'

The Chicago Tribune 17th July 2002

'At just the wrong moment, "his phone rings and interrupts him in mid-sentence, and his fictional deal is exposed." Plant lumps him in with other "stage-phoners" – people who use their cell phones as props.'

www.horizonzero.ca November 2002

We've probably all had the slightly annoying experience of sitting on the train or bus next to somebody who is talking on their mobile phone so loudly that we can't quite concentrate on anything else but listening to them! Mobile phones, love them or hate them, have become an integral part of our daily lives, where we all regularly observe examples of rather obtrusive mobile phone use. Now we have a term which fills a gap in the lexicon for describing this phenomenon – stage phoning.

one of the few parts of the world which is not, quite literally, a stage, for these people, is the so-called 'quiet carriage' now designated on many trains

A person who engages in stage-phoning is someone who talks loudly on their mobile in a deliberate attempt to attract the interest and attention of people around them. Such individuals appear to be behaving as if they were giving a performance, with the mobile as a theatrical prop, hence the use of the word stage. The derived noun stage-phoner has been coined to describe these types, who in American English are sometimes also referred to by the rather derogatory term cell (phone) jerk. We meet stage-phoners at every street corner, waiting room or café. One of the few parts of the world which is not, quite literally, a stage, for these people, is the so-called 'quiet carriage' now designated on many trains!

Background – stage-phoning

The word stage-phoning was coined in 2001 by Dr Sadie Plant of the Centre for Cybernetic Culture, based at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. The term was introduced in a groundbreaking study commissioned by Motorola, entitled On the Mobile: The Effects of Mobile Telephones on Social and Individual Life (October, 2001), which took researchers to nine cities worldwide, from New York to London. The study identified a variety of behaviours that demonstrate the dramatic impact mobile phones are having on the way that people interact. Dr Plant proposes a division of mobile phone users into two types, which she refers to as innies and outies (not to be confused with informal ways of describing the shape of a person's belly button!). An innie is someone who uses their mobile phone discreetly and unobtrusively, often finding a quiet and private place to continue a phone call. An outie, by contrast, is someone who will have their mobile phone out in the open and openly receive calls in any location, often maintaining the mobile phone conversation alongside whatever dialogue they were engaged in at the time of the call.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 28th February 2005.

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