Phantom Gestures


Here’s a familiar sight exclusive to the past decade or so. A person gesturing while talking on a cell phone is pretty interesting behavior to witness. For one, do you think that the person on the other side of the call can notice these gestures? Do you believe that a certain gesture can change your tone during a conversation? Body language affects tone of voice in face-to-face and public communication settings, so it’s possible that flailing your arm up in disgust translates better than a simple sigh.

Personally, I seem to regularly tap into my Italian-influenced gesticulating reservoir. If someone is near me during a phone conversation, they might laugh at how often I gesture. Mark Twain’s “A Telephonic Conversation” addresses the peculiarities of being in the room with someone talking on the phone. If it wasn’t for the phone device, would the person’s responses make sense to you?

Probably not, but we’re used to it. We live in a world where everyone (even the youngins) is equipped with a mobile phone  and we walk around seeing only one side of a conversation on a daily basis, which makes this one-sided “phantom gesturing” a pretty common Hand It phenomenon.


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