Mobile madness: a creeping social menace

Published October 3rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

I noticed in the Jordan Times, and with passing interest, a picture of the Hindu God Ganesh with a mobile attached to his ear. I pass no other comment, only to use this illustration as an opening broadside to this week's story.  


I published an article just over a year ago that warned people about the serious addiction and social consequences of using mobiles at every opportunity, breaking understood norms of social behavior and although I did not hint at it at the time, the criminal consequences of substituting cocaine for the mobile.  


Is there going to be a Messiah of Mobiles? Will there be a Wako style shoot out involving mobiles? Will there be a mass suicide attempt by the mobilistes? Will there ever be a Nuremberg Rally of Mobiles? I'm really not sure, but the "writing is on my teeth" (as Mao Tse Tung once said to his dental hygienist).  


Nobody can accuse me of being a gadget man. I do not own a microwave, video, car or a mobile. I do not worry about microwavery, I could do with a video, and am increasingly becoming psychopathic about the abuse of the mobile. I know that I am the last animal off of Noah's Ark, but I am afraid for the future of the mobile and not least the mobile owner, aka the mobiliste. 


I can't remember what Nostradamus said about the mobile but I bet it's linked to a disaster. I hope so. I think some sort of minor disaster is needed to stop these mobilistes from destroying the environment. I hope you will listen and this won't be the Armageddon.  


I hope I do not join a vigilante group and become the Sigmund Bronson of the new mobile execution cult. "Bring me the mobile of Alfredo Garcia; or failing that, the manager of "Alfredo's" restaurant on Mecca Street.  


If I'm being a bit obscurantist, let me explain in words of one syllable. Mobiles are here to stay and they are a blessing in many situations. This is entirely plausible. However, they are also a creeping social menace. Many people now use them in a banal and annoying way. They ring in on inconsequential business. They interrupt conversations and the ringer has no idea about the context of what you might be engaged in.  


I am now engaged in debt rescheduling. Ring, ring. "Hello honeybun, I was just wondering whether you would like flat or round lettuce for tea".  


No wonder so many people leave meetings, because they are embarrassed by such a mundane conversation. I would welcome a few less meetings and if mobiles brought this about then nobody would mind; but unfortunately Mr. Debt Rescheduler enters the room blushes and says: "sorry about that, where were we"; thus making the meeting longer.  


These forlorn individuals have no point in ringing in with their queries. Let them ask such questions in the morning over the burnt toast.  


In the last couple of months, I swear, I have started conversations with five or six people, only to find them talking, albeit, furtively, into a mobile. The problem is that I am regarded as antediluvian and their ignorance is regarded as normal. I can't see such behavior being acceptable to the Bedu in 1934 (though, nowadays it is quite possible that "keef haleks" go by the board, while a bedu rings up his financial advisor at the Citibank.)  


Now, is this just old Sig whinging? Well not exactly. You see, the hypocritical thing about this is that the mobilistes are themselves put out when another mobiliste ignores them on non-essential business.  


People are starting to resist this ridiculous intrusion into an ever-decreasing world of conversation. I will give you now a few examples. We are not sure if there is a mobile serial killer on the loose in the Bahamas but over the past year, four people have been found dead with mobiles stuffed down their throats, with the message; "You have no incoming calls".  


Rather extreme you might say. In Antigua, the local manager of a mobile phone company was found dead with a thousand mobile phones melting around his head. In Romania, a mobiliste was tied to hundreds of mobile phones and dragged through the streets. There have been odd attacks on mobilistes in Jordan, but nothing serious.  


It is the sheer bad manners of the whole milieu that enrages. I was fitting some dentures into a local Abdoun worthy and his mobile went off. At the height of advanced mechanical dental surgery, he tried to answer. "Herro". I was not impressed. I had a real "go" at him, using English that I only thought Oliver Reed used on late night TV in Britain. Or used to before he called it a day.  


One of the problems mobiles face is, thanks to anti-social modern technology, too much information is available on this little hand held pernicious machine. Gone are the days when people rang their spouses and said: "Hello darling, is that you, be home later, just having a Jacuzzi with 17 Turkish sailors". Now thanks to Mr. Nokia (who must hate people talking to each other without a mobile) the dreaded thing brings you the price of a camel in Mafraq, or good quality qat in Sanaa, or the price of white wine in the "Hisham".  


I recently went out to eat with very well mannered people. They were forever fiddling with their mobiles. One was looking at currency rates, one looking at her astrological sign. When I informed them that I could get out a very large book about gum disease, all went quiet. But why such bad manners? It is not even now considered bad manners, which is even more galling.  


I leave it there because it is too depressing to tell you what else they could inform you about. Because all this news is available on mobiles, they consider it OK to go through three hundred programs, while you sit there like some unsold olive from Azraq.  


When you finally pluck up courage to enquire why they have not spoken one word for an hour, they tell you without any qualms that they have been checking the price of children's balloons for a forthcoming party. When you berate them, they are mildly apologetic but they really view you as someone who certainly can't handle the 21st century.  


I would like to see a government department get more involved with this e.g. the Ministry of Mobile Containment. The vast majority of telephonic debate does not involve calls that will undermine the security of Jordan but they will undermine Jordanian sanity (or at least mine if this mindless communication continues). A lot of people are guilty, so I advice that the newly appointed agency give telephonic containment a high priority.  


Most mobilistes do not need a heavy going over, just a word in their ear, but make it personal and not via a mobile. — ( Jordan Times )  


By Sigmund Siignatuur

© 2000 Mena Report (

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