ugly lump of plastic that follows you

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    In a trance in phone zone
    BIRD By Anne Greenwood
    Monday, 8 August 2005

    Finally sanity has prevailed. Someone in charge (not the Government) has realised the terror that is ... the mobile phone.

    The call has gone out, in a new push to cut the road toll, not to answer the blasted thing when driving. Let it ring, let it wobble, let it flash and beckon and demand all it likes – just DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE.

    Pity sanity didn't stretch to include not answering the mobile AT ALL. EVER! That's never ever as in chop off your right arm before you pick up a mobile!

    But we can't help ourselves. We're addicted to the phone. We wait in anticipation of finding something out. Anything. We just have to know what's going on – even if what we discover is useless or wrong.

    In fact, it's a tad sad to think that hundreds of thousands of phone addicts out there can't let go of possibly the most horrible, insidious bane of the 21st century (I can think of only one thing worse – the G string).

    The phone rings and people mutate into phone drones. We stop a conversation mid sentence, take our eyes off the road, suspend thought and action, we stop eating, sleeping, being normal, rational people to do the phone's bidding.

    We've been conditioned by a small lump of plastic and circuitry to attend to its needs. It's like we're turned into zombies when that phone makes a noise.

    Ring, ring, beep, buzz, splat, hiss, answer me, answer me ... and we do.

    As you can gather, I'm not a phone fan. Give me e-mail any day, but a mobile?

    It's just an ugly lump of plastic that follows you around. It's annoying, distracting, time wasting and turns otherwise reasonable people into loud, rude street corner gossips.

    Honestly, I was at the post office last week and a bloke was yakking away on his mobile to someone named Bill. When I went into the PO I could still hear this bloke telling Bill that his best friend's next door neighbour was having an affair with the bloke across the road. And the automatic doors of the PO were shut! That's how loud he was. And, as I and a dozen other PO customers waited patiently to buy a stamp for our letters (remember those things? Small inoffensive and silent), we also discovered that the best friend's next door neighbour is thinking about cosmetic surgery for drooping eyelids, buys too many lottery tickets, needs to "do something" with her lawn and has a drinking habit. All things I didn't need, or want, to know but couldn't avoid being told short of putting my fingers in my ears and singing "not listening, not listening".

    The mobile is a dangerous, insidious tool of stupidity and misinformation yet we're in love with our phones. The latest ABS stats suggest children as young as nine have, on average, one mobile phone. And teenagers between 15 and 19 have, on average, two mobiles! They spend a minimum of one hour a day talking or texting on their phone and between $5 and $50 on new ring tones/themes.

    Ring tones! It's like the yo-yo craze all over again – only this one involves no skill or dexterity, other than the ability to stretch your personal debt out of all proportion.

    The romance of the ring tone has us enthralled. We're almost heady with delight because our ugly lumps of plastic will glow, gyrate or scream for just $3.95 plus the cost of a call.

    Instead of doing walk the dog with a yo-yo, it's Snoop Doggy with the Nokia.

    Of course, our infatuation with the mobile is no where near as deep as Telstra's love of the way things are going.

    More mobiles mean less landlines. Less landlines mean less infrastructure and fewer linesmen on the ground because, when your mobile is cactus, what do you do? You drive it to a phone shop and end up getting another one. All the phone company has to do is look after its phone towers – ugly lumps of plastic and steel popping up on a rooftop near you any day soon.

    Granted, the mobile has its place – as a means of communication, especially if your car has stopped and you need to call help (as long as you're not in Boggabri where you're buggered for a signal) – but it's not a TOY.

    Yet that's what we are treating the mobile phone as – a plaything, the new yo-yo but one that is going to zip back and smack us in the wallet if we don't learn to ignore it. Or worse, cause the dashboard to smack us in the face if we don't learn to not answer it when we're mobile.
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