The Last Luddite comes in from the cold…..

Mobile Phones or Cellphones  if you will….a boon or a curse?  Discuss….

Apparently, I am the last person in the developed world to start using a mobile.  I have been pointed out to young people as a curio, as much a  relic of a bygone age as steam trains or the woolly mammoth.  Apparently I am the only person to observe how these wee beasties have killed the art of conversation rather than promoting it.  Climb on board a train or a bus these days and you will immediately see what I mean.  Passengers get on and sit down.  Perhaps they will take in the view or their immediate surroundings for a few seconds, then out comes the phone and they are immediately absorbed in the prestidigitating routines of SMS texting.  Even if they actually make or receive a call, the conversations are usually mundane in the extreme……‘Yeah, I’m on the bus….yeah. should be with you in about 20 minutes….’   

As a long term non-mobile person I have inadvertently eavesdropped on one half of a thousand conversations and to be quite candid I’ve yet to hear anybody discussing anything of much substance.  On the train, on the bus; ‘parish pump’ affairs are very much to the fore….where they are, how long they’ll be…eyes down and watch those thumbs fly across the keyboard – at least it removes the likelihood of any unpasteurised contact with a complete stranger….. 

Press button ‘B’ , dear………

Despite my reputation as an arch-Luddite, I don’t really have anything against mobile phones.  I can see their usefulness and have used them at times, particularly when travelling abroad.   However I have never really needed to use one regularly; whether employed or unemployed, I have effectively been home-based for the last 10 years and have therefore been readily accessible via landline.   But that’s me……..none of this can account for the behaviour of the Princess, who like most of her generation is welded at the hip to her mobile. 

Having become increasingly embroiled with Manchester Labour Students, a sort of pale pink New Labour student group based on Manchester’s 2 principal universities, The Princess was upgraded by her indulgent mother to a ‘Blackberry’, which is one of those hellish multi-purpose gizmos that not only makes phone calls and sends texts, but can access the internet, pick up TV broadcasts from Alpha Centauri and neuter your cats without running out of charge.  Clearly she spent much of last term Blackberrying  away (Roy Wood forgive me…), all of which resulted in a phone bill equivalent to the GDP of a small West African state.  On the whole I thought her mother took it pretty well, but it was clear that changes would need to be made to avoid a repetition.  Which is how I have become the last Luddite on the block to join the mobile revolution.

The ‘deal’ the Princess is on means that she can nominate a series of ‘magic numbers’ which are free calls as long as they are on the same network.  And, hey presto, the ultra-basic ‘Pay-as-you-go’ model which has been gathering dust on the shelf for the last year or so, is not only on the same network, but is also now charged up and ready for incoming.  Now she rings me on that for free instead of on the expensive landline..

I can almost feel  what Harold Wilson once called the ‘white heat of technology’ scorching the back of my neck as I haul myself into the 21st Century….


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