{29/01/2012}   To be or not to be … with your mobile phone

Could you cope without your mobile phone?  Do you know anyone who doesn’t use a mobile phone?  A friend and I had a discussion about how life was when none of us had mobile communication.  We both agreed there were a lot of pros and cons.
At 18 a friend and I went Inter Railing.  We had no phones or internet.  Our parents didn’t know where we were, even what countries we were in until they got a postcard or the odd brief phonebox call.  I can’t imagine how worrying that would have been for them.
Had we had mobiles with internet access, we’d have been taking photos, posting them on Facebook, smugly texting and updating our status from exciting places, texting and emailing from the trains.  But we had adventures away from a public forum, part of the excitement was the unknown, we looked out of train windows, we took photos with 35mm cameras, months before we’d ever see our photos.  As it happens, our
cameras got nicked.  I expect our phones would’ve gone too (now that would’ve been a major panic!).
Nowadays, I think we miss a lot that goes on around us because we have our eyes on our phones.  I also think it makes people lazy.  How many texts do you get along these lines: “Running 20mins late”.  Which you receive when you’ve arrived on time at your meeting place.  It’s been a long time since I’ve made an exact plan – meet you at 11 by the clock tower – because plans can be vague – c u Charing X @ 11.  There will then b 1105 texts – Soz, running late – then – I’m by platform 6 – then – just thru plat 1 barrier – so she by platform 6 will head to platform 1, by which time platform 1 has read previous text and, eyes to phone, heads to platform 6 … You get my drift.
I used to go out without my mobile.  I would often get complaints that friends I was meeting couldn’t get hold of me … to tell me they were late/what was I wearing/should they bring a brolly.  Admittedly, it would make me feel alone and disconnected, and I’d have no phone to play with while waiting like Billy-no-mates.  But once the evening was in full swing, I’d be glad of not having distractions.
I have been out with friends and had a shock awakening that all of us are on our phones.  Once upon a time non-smoking pubs were a novelty and there were people who wanted that unsmokey environment.  I want to go out to a pub that has no mobile phone reception.  In London or whichever town/city/village I’m in.  I want to have and give undivided attention to the friends I’m with who I always complain I don’t see often enough.  I want us to forget the name of a childhood TV presenter, spend ages going through names of other presenters, laugh about our memories, or, “Oo, oo, I think it begins with an M”, and two hours later someone shouts out “Marti Caine”.  It’s great that we can race each other to Google it (is it?), it gives us that, “Oh, of course!”.  But I like the shared experience of trying to remember it.
I know I often moan about mobiles and people being out and focussing more on their beeping, flashing, ringing phones.  But I would feel lost and lonely without mine.  And it does mean I am in contact with friends more.  I just wish we turned them off more.  And for my next holiday, I want to leave my phone at home.


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