Monday, October 4, 2010

Butt Dialing

Yesterday whilst enjoying my favorite addiction at Starbucks in the warm sunshine, I learned of a new term called Butt Dialing (BD). BD is when one inadvertently dials a cell phone via the accidental pressing of the keyboard. Like when you sit down with your cell phone in your hip pocket, the cell phone is unlocked, and some auto-dial button is pressed thereby placing a call, hence the term Butt Dialing. There are a variety of physiological ways in which this may happen, the Butt being the engagement mechanism only one of several. Once a BD occurs, the BDed person can then hear your conversation much like an espionage bug.

My daughter told me that she gets a lot of BDs and that she typically enjoys them! She has no idea how or why she gets so many, but we now have a technological situation that presents itself with some very ethical questions. For example, if your receive a BD, should you listen in? While my son was in college he BDed me and I heard his entire lunch conversation with his friends (through his pocket shirt, which technically should be called a Breast Dial …same acronym, however). Frankly, I wish I wouldn’t have heard the discussion, but I couldn’t hang up! It’s like when you know something’s really gross, you have to look at it. Accidents on I-25 are a keen example to demonstrate this point. So the ethical question is pretty obvious; should you be listening in to someone else’s conversation, knowing that it was a Butt Dial?

Another question is, do you tell the Butt Dialer later on after the call? “Hey, Joe, you Butt Dialed me Thursday at 1 AM when you were at the bar. I know everything you said to that chick you were with.” Or is it better to simply tell Joe that he butt dialed on Thursday and then let him sweat out the other details (how much you heard, did you hang up, are you going to tell others, etc.). Today I BDed someone. She called back and wanted to know why I called. I simply told her that it was a Butt Dial and she immediately understood and was very cordial. She, apparently, has been a victim of BD before so it was not a big deal.

Now that I know I am capable of committing BD, I always have my phone in a locked status when not in use. Also, I’ve practiced OCD hang ups to secure that the connection is truly gone. It would be nice if there were some mobile phone software that detects a Butt Dial. Maybe the auto dial function could incorporate some detection of a BD (lack of voice on one end, detection of noxious gasses close to the mobile unit, etc.) and then incorporate an Extended Butt Dial Greeting such as, “The person that called you Butt Dialed and it was unintentional. Please hang up.” Any way you look at it, there’s a huge opportunity for someone to make some money off of BDs either in court, extortion or in software inventions. Have you ever been a BD victim?


  1. good one froggy. i laughed my butt off.

  2. Very funny, Frog! I also enjoy when someone gets my voicemail, thinks they've hung up, then leaves a lengthy message. My favorite was one in which the caller was in her car, and I got to hear her sing a Def Lepard tune AND tell off the slow driver in front of her.

    BTW, apparently your article has cured Mike Jones of ever committing BD again - he laughed it off. :)