8 Things I have come to realise about Mobile Phones.
[insert polyphonic ringtone version of latest Eminem song] ... um ... excuse me, I'll just take this first...
Mobile phones are ubiquitous, compact and inextricably part of modern popular culture. We can use them everywhere, and do. Is this a good thing ... read on and make up your own mind.
- Size Matters.
Telephonic communications used to be a rather posh and formal affair - the set was mounted on the wall, hand-cranked generators roused an operator at the exchange and you left your 20c in the honesty tin on the mantle piece. Enter the Mobile phone - originally a brick (that weighed more than the clay namesake), portable if you were a wharfie or had a ute. The mobile phone in male culture is one of the few devices that is more coveted the smaller it gets - unlike cars, computers and genitalia. We have entered the era of the phoneless phone, reduced to a bluetooth handsfree ear-jack, or worn around the neck as some high-tech talisman, or shoved deep in trouser pocket resembling some deformed cricket box. Keypads so small that normal fingers can barely press them but doling out so much radiation that measurable neural interruption occurs whenever you use it. What an amazing little bundles they are - feature glut, colour screens that need an electron microscope to read and scratch and sniff, vibrating action.
- Interrupting is not impolite.
Before the advent of the mobile phone, one would have considered interruption of a conversation by an un-related party to be a tad rude. These days, we accept stacatto conversations coming in between other conversations being held via mobile - I seem to be one of the few who have a problem with legitimised rudeness. I know all the arguments: it is convenient; makes you more accessible; have your people call my people and all that blarg. I have trouble getting past the fact that it is so rude in all social circles to barge in on another conversation without even checking to see if it is convenient - yet we accept (and commit) this act using a mobile without giving it a second thought. Well, we are not completely uncivilised, we might say sorry to ring you now but... but that is hardly adequate, surely. Yeah I know, desk-bound telephones do something similar, but you have to be near a telephone for it to disturb you, and you can walk away from them when you want not to be disturbed. A mobile is always near you.
The Txt is is mightier than the word.
We are a society of communicators - I think I read that Australia is one of the top 3 adopters of mobile phone technology - yay us!. We have at our disposal more ways of reaching out to other people than ever before, yet we are more lonely, more depressed and more inable to express how we feel and what we mean to others... enter TXT. Context-less, abbreviated uber babbling can be convenient but is not the way to cancel and order, dump your girlfriend or vote someone off the island, yet this pervasive skill is occupying the ether and the thumbs of countless mobile txtrs - one wonders when the first cases of txt-thumb replace tennis-elbow and wankers-wrist as common repetitive strain injurys. 911 wen Uv a mo. Hw grt S dis?
- Getting signal is not optional.
Get good coverage? In a black spot ... some inner city offices cannot get a signal and the temporarily mobile-less need counselling (even though they have a fully functioning normal handset on the desk in front of them). Take a kid buswalking and they get twitchy as soon as they lose signal - their personal radar is so sensitive they can sniff what cell they are leaving and feel when the have entered a black spot. Gotta love people in suits hanging out of windows and standing on chairs to improve the quality of the connection - high tech convenience my arse - and to think they are paying for the privalege of participating in this digital callme-sutra. This is almost as amusing as the extremes smokers nowadays take to partake of the weed while at work - The means justify the ends. I wonder what long-term research will say about the radiation we bathe in all day-every day from mobile phones. I am guessing the news will not be good.
- Who carrys change these days?
Important point - public telephones are few and far between, often in a bad state of repair, and the handpiece probably has more germs growing on all surfaces than found in the nearest wheeliebin. Having to find change to make an important all is apain, one can see the sense in providing a son or daughter with a means of communicating with home when they need to, so long as they do not lose it, remember to charge it, and are not racking up a bill talking to charlene about the days of our lives. Many kids have part time jobs to pay for their own mobile habits - it is hip and cool to have a featured mobile, with music-play ability, and games, and a colour screen, and sexy case, and the latest polyphonic ring tone. One wonders how kids of my generation did without them. But we did.
- Communicating without saying anything.
"Yeah hi, just thought I'd drop a line and say hi, out and about with the folk from the office, we should get together soon, maybe have lunch, catch up, yeah, that would be good ... oh, when you get this message, call me to let me know it came through ok as I just went through a tunnel and I may have just dropped out then ... ok, well, see you soon".beep. Blip bip blop bop pip pip bip blop bop. "Hi, its me ... Gary ... yeah, i'm on the bus, about 5 minutes away, can't talk now, see you soon".beep.Blip bip blop bop pip pip bip blop bop. "Hello, It is me, Gary, I feel unwell and cannot come into work today, sorry ... yeah, probably tomorrow... the signal is breaking up, talk to you later".beep.".....bugger, the battery is nealy flat". Put your phone on vibrate and call yourself.
- Pxt or just Tired and Emotional?
Feature glut on mobiles is making the "make a call" feature seem like an afterthought. Your mobile isn't a real mobile unless it has a inbuilt camera - come on, pxt it to me baby. Digicams are great, but carrying one around in a concealable form is an interesting issue that is just starting to play itself out as people's privacy is being violated in change-rooms, toilets and others where camera lenses are not mormally found - who would possibly object to some spotty herbert snapping and pxting your image to someone else - not harming anyone is it? It is a craze I do not understand, but I guess I am getting old.
- Your Package or Mine?
Rightly or wrongly, mobile companies realised early on that serious profit was not in the equipment but in the package - those ongoing charges that users pay to continue to get their service hit. Dealers dole out cents per call savings like it actually makes a difference. They do not tell customers that there is little or no justification for differential call fees within Oz, given that all calls are routed on the same network, following paths that are the least busy at that nanosecond. Locals calls could be routed via Uluru or Bombay on their journey next door. The STD/Mobile call fee fiasco is a joke to all but those who have to pay it.
Convenience comes at a price and it seems to me that the biggest cost is ignorance, the biggest risk is dependance and the saddest fact is that people talk to other people more but say less and less.
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