Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 16 November 2008

No such thing as a free leap forward

A post with the same first para appeared yesterday. The post sought to be funny but wasn’t. So the idea is here recycled.

We’d just finished with Siegfried Idyll and were about to hear Four Last Songs. But, as a sort of entr’acte, came the tinkle of a mobile phone. The acoustics of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall are so good I was able to identify the culprit immediately and watch his panicky scrabbling.

When mobiles first impinged on our family I recall someone saying this was how all phones should be. No more naked dashes from bathroom to hallway, no more trudges from one vandalised, urine-smelling cavity to another, no more running out of change. What we didn’t foresee is there would be a price to pay and the unfortunate Birmingham concert-goer was paying it. Perpetual connectedness comes at the risk of public humiliation.

My brother paid a variant of this price. He went to a concert and switched his phone off. Halfway through he began to have his doubts about this but the phone was in a bag and getting to it would have caused much disturbance. The concert was blotted out by his subsequent agonies.

I pay a different price. I cannot trust batteries. So my mobile is always turned off and only used when I make the briefest of calls. I’m a candidate for half a phone but none is available.

And there’s an even heavier price. Mobiles are ideal for triggering car bombs remotely. Not exactly an unalloyed benefit to mankind as the phoner (above) appears to realise.


marja-leena said...

Cell phone users can be very irritating, talking loudly on the buses, in restaurants, even interrupting personal conversations - rude, in my mind!

We still have not succumbed to that technology, though husband is sorely tempted by the iPhone. Canada's cell phone charges are exorbitant and keep us away while land lines are cheap here.

Julia said...

Here most households don't even have land lines now (too expensive and Czech Telecom used to take a month or more to install, people got out of the habit). So mobiles are ubiquitous. But with ubiquity comes custom. In university classrooms, kids are kidded by their peers if they let their phones ring, and I haven't heard a phone go off in a concert in a long time. I keep my phone on for business and babysitters emergencies, but turned to silent. That's definitely more relaxing than worrying about a phone going off in the middle of a concert, and still satisfies that need to know new mother instinct!

By the way, I thought your last post on mobiles was funny.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: Keeping my mobile switched off is a reflection of my tranquil (let's be truthful - virtually non-existent) social life. If we were still into baby-sitters, it would be on.

I'm astonished (and sort of pleased) you found the deleted post funny. Each time I checked it the doubts hardened around me like setting concrete. And concrete is what I saw. But then judging humour is like judging one's own face, a subject which forms my next post.

Avus said...

My ancient Nokia brick is used for out going only - I like my peace and quiet and prefer incoming to go to my house phone/answering machine. As phones have become more intricate, with various appliances included, so people seem to become more and more slaves to the things - wandering along talking to themselves or immersed in "texting" - which I do not intend to understand!

Barrett Bonden said...

There's another serious point I failed to raise. Should climbers and visitors to remote parts take a mobile with them? At first glance choosing between the rescue of someone injured and offending against "Call of the wild" ethics would seem to be a no-brainer. But the argument is that people having a mobile to fall back on may well act more carelessly.