My friend Bob possessed what I think was one of the first truly commercial mobile phones on the market. He used to swear by it - and sometimes at it - but he always maintained that it had changed his life.
It was very heavy; in fact it was about the size and weight as that of a house brick, but even so he always reckoned that this was the future of communication. I wasn’t quite sure - I’d sooner have had a house brick!
My father averred that telephones were the work of the devil. For my part I declared avidly that I would try to get through life without this particular type of electronic appendage. I did of course inevitably fail!
People close to me accused me of being a Luddite. I, initially flattered, thought that this had something to do with resembling a high court judge, but after I looked up its meaning, I came to the conclusion that they were probably correct. The whole matter came to a head when, on one particular cold and windy day, I was urgently trying to phone the office. After stopping at umpteen different telephone boxes, trying to find a functional one which was free of vandalism, I finally succeeded on the first count. So there I was standing in the midst of panes of glass that were no longer there and subject to the attacks of a cruel damp wind and thoroughly fed up, when the words ‘pig-headed ‘ came to mind. (Corny joke alert). I couldn’t have been rasher!
So I finally gave in; nothing special; small plastic thing; pay as you go. This changed my life and certainly produced a triumphant leer on Bob’s face. Everyone was pleased: and I no longer existed in a vacuum. Accept I did. I lived in a different vacuum and so apparently did everyone else.
I hung on to my original phone for some time and managed to avoid the telecommunicate advances which were going on around me. Then one day somebody asked if they could borrow my calculator and I had to explain that actually it was my mobile phone and then received a look that seemed to suggest that maybe I wasn’t aware that the Earth was round - which I believe it is.
So finally I capitulated and got myself a smartphone. When I learnt the cost I realized how it got its name. I must say it was amazing; but I vowed to only use it for making telephone calls. Then I started to receive texts. Then the Uke Club decided that they would communicate by using Facebook, which I had to join. Then an enlightened member of the family suggested that we could all communicate via WhatsApp; which I then had to join …. And so it went on, and before I knew where I was my mobile was covered in Apps.
Do I mind? Well not really, in fact I wonder how we managed before mobiles existed. The young generation are fully tuned in, although I think that the older generation are more grudging and tend to look at their phones almost apologetically. It never ceases to amuse me when, for example, you are in amongst a group of people when that familiar ‘message plink’ occurs and you can see everyone surreptitiously checking their phones in unison.
Latest statistics suggest that we spend almost three hours a day on our smartphones. Of course, naturally, this doesn’t apply to me, but psychologists tell us that we are in fact much happier in cyber-space then we are in the real world even though this cyber world is made up of addictive bunkum.
I’m going to tell you my ‘mobile’ story which, as with all of my stories, is in no way embroidered and is completely genuine. I hope that you don’t consider it too irreverent.
I was at a funeral and I had only recently purchased my first mobile phone. Somebody had very kindly downloaded a message alert that declared, in a Star Wars type of electronic voice, the words ‘You Have a Message!’. We were halfway through the service when I suddenly realised that I had not turned of my phone and, in addition, had no idea as to whether it would make a noise if I turned it off. I did however come to the conclusion that any noise that it made would be preferable to hearing the ghostly words ‘You Have a Message’ booming out in the middle of a eulogy, so I turned it off. Fortunately no noise was emitted and my perspiration was therefore unwarranted, but I can assure that it was a lesson well learnt.
Overall, I suppose that the point I’m trying to make here, however reluctantly, is that on balance mobile phones are perhaps a benefit.
By the way have I told you that I’m trying to get through life without a Satnav? So all is not yet lost!