Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mobile-o-philia: An addiction?...

Gadgets, Gadgets everywhere...This has been the state for the past two decades or so. However it has been growing more quickly in the last 10 years. With a number of new devices being introduced and being easily accessbile to all both due to lower prices and ease of purchase, they are really seen everywhere While it is good that all people are getting to use these gadgets it is also to be noted that it will lead to an increasing number of people being addicted to devices. And some of these people will be more vulnerable to this due to ignorance of the ill effects. The foremost among these gadgets is the Cell phone. If one goes out today and looks around, almost everyone has a cell phone: Cheap/costly, small/big, with different features, but omnipresent all the same. This leads to some interesting scenarios:

  • Always on the phone folks: These people can be found everywhere. The most distinguishing quality of these guys being that it is difficult to get them to talk to someone in front of them. Not because they cannot, but because they hardly get off the phone for an hour a day.Talking in the phone late at night, early in the morning, in the noons. Anytime when there is even two or three minutes of available time, they whip up there phones and starting talking. Some of them wake up to phone calls everyday, possibly from the same person. And sleep while still on the phone. It becomes so habitual to others around that, you never answer to these people when they say something standing in front of you. This is because it might something they said to someone across the phone, talking on an invisible blue tooth headphone or a semivisible handsfree cord. So not answering is a way to save yourself from an embarassing situation when they stare at you with a "I was not talking to you" look.
  • Walking Talkies: They are bit more difficult to come by but are definitely more interesting. They walk around on the roads talking to themselves, laughing by themselves oblivious to thing around them. From my childhood, I always thought that this was done by people we generally refer as being mad - the ones you find wearing torn dirty clothes and sitting by the side of busy roads and not so busy by lanes. And it was not considered a particularly respected state to be in. But suddenly it seems to have become fashionable to be "mad" minus the torn clothes (torn and worn out jeans excepted). They walk around as potential visitors for open manholes and in general as entertainment for people not affected by this "illness" as yet.
  • Talk and Drive enthusiasts: They go around talking on their phones while driving bikes and cars, taxicabs and autorickshaws, trucks, buses, and what not, even bullock carts. They are more dangerous to an average layman than terrorists, by the sheer number of them among us. Recently, the driver of the cab which drops me back from work was caught on Chennai ECR by a cop. The guy was asked to pull over. The cop came running to tell the driver that it is not good drive while you talk (or while you drive). As usual after the pep talk from the cop, the driver paid him Rs. 50 as token of appreciation for allowing us to proceed on our homeward journey. This is just one case, there are many others driving around on the roads while being in a totally different dimension over the phone. And the most ridiculous as aspect of this is that the talk is not about saving india from pakistani insurgents or anything atleast of a minuscule importance to anyone. People share and solve riddles over the phone, talk about what they had/did not have for breakfast, lunch or dinner and why, and so on. Is this something which cannot wait until the journey is over?...More than anything else, it is another manifestation of the utter disregard we harbour for our fellow beings. "Don't drink and Drive" is only for the few who drink but "Don't Talk on phone while you drive" or rather "Don't drive while you are on the phone" is a slogan which is for almost everyone among us.
  • In their own world: With cell phones doubling as mp3 players and FM radios, the overcrowded places which used to be socially active are now filled with pre occuppied people who hardly notice who is standing or sitting next to them. Buses, Waiting rooms, rail station, name any place we have people sitting or standing with ears plugged into a pair of headphones. It is but difficult to capture their attention for anything.

So much for the funny side. But is this something of a healthy trend? To me, it is nothing other than addiction. Very similar to the other addictions like for alcohol, tobacco, gambling, except that this is far more widespread and socially accepted. And anyway we have news about the microwave radiation from cell phones being harmful to our health. The time is not far when they will de addiction centers to treat people for this syndrome.