In the category of unintended benefits of new technology, I’d like to note the impact of Bluetooth on a top fear among adult Americans: the fear of public speaking. What is it that leads people in airports (already generally oblivious to everything around them) to assume a license to shout all their unreflected opinions, speculations, and intentions? I was in the food court at O’Hare when accosted aurally by a guy two tables over declaiming loudly to someone in another state. It occurred to me that he might not have actually needed the mobile network given the volume he was employing. Cell phone use in public places is already a polluting plague, but when it is coupled with that little radio device hanging from an ear, it turns normally taciturn introverts into broadcasters.

I’m quite certain that my high school drama teacher would have been delighted with this technology. He used to tell us to “speak to the last row in the auditorium.” Were he still active,  he could just say, “speak as you do when you have the Bluetooth microphone 4 inches from your mouth!” Perhaps the fact that the headset is small and not in direct line of spit leads people to bellow like preachers at Hyde Park corner. In any case, the end of public speaking as a top fear is near. For the shy executives who don’t speak up, buy them a new Bluetooth in-ear headset and see that 360 improve.

Your friendly curmudgeon,

Doug

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