being in a country where i am sufficiently fluent with the local language, i get to overhear conversations regardless of my intention. my everyday 30-min bus ride in london always bring such an opportunity: unfortunately it is not possible to drop out of it. some people do force others to get to know bits of their daily life details whether they want it or not. the benefit of anonymity in a big city? perhaps. i wonder how they perceive privacy in the internet.
one useful tactic to talk on the phone in public is to use your free hand to cover your mouth and possibly the microphone on the mobile phone. benefits are clear for those who consider them as benefits:
– reducing the noise from your surroundings thus more pleasant for your calling partner and clearer hearing for you
– preventing others from overhearing your conversation
it is quite common to spot people doing this in japan and south korea but less as you move to west from there. one speculation is that certain cultures enforce the notion of desirable behaviors more clearly than others.
an indonesian-german girl living in tokyo who quickly adopted the locals’ norm to take a call at a dinner table so that her call does not disturb others.
a korean girl blocking the noise from the street for a conference call
an argentinian gentleman who believes that he can hear the voice from the caller better by blocking the microphone on the mobile phone