The ‘phone’ of contention

I feel pretty old writing this article because this makes me realize that I was born in a generation where landline phones were fashionable. I remember my boyfriend, now my husband, chasing me for 2 days after school hours to get my ‘phone number’ so that he can discuss the ‘seating arrangements’ for the exams with me (and we discussed everything else instead!). Anyways! I am that old! I belong to a generation that lived without SMSes and WhatsApp messages and still managed to make friends in school.  And, yes, before I hit 30, I can happily claim to have lived more than half of my life without a mobile phone.

Going by the standards of my generation, I was privileged to get an old and discarded Motorola mobile phone of my dad very early in life. But mind you, I was given a mobile phone with a strict warning that it has to be used only in the case of emergency. All that mobile phone allowed me to do was make calls & send, if I remember correctly, 142 characters messages. Sending multi-media messages were unaffordable for a kid like me whose monthly allowances were less than the cost of popcorn in PVRs today.

Anyways, coming back to the point, yes, a mobile phone, about a decade back, was a commodity all of us could live without.  But today, mobile phones are more than mobiles phones and that confuses an old-school-er like me. The society has defined a whole new way of measuring people’s amicability quotient by simply calculating the number of calls a person makes to his/her friends, family and acquaintances in a stipulated time frame.

Here is how the new social charter works:

  • You don’t pick up someone’s call once, you are deliberately ignoring the person.
  • You don’t pick up the call more than twice, you are annoyed with the person.
  • You pick up the call and tell you are busy, you are acting pricey.
  • You forget to charge your mobile’s battery, you are careless.
  • You don’t call someone often, you don’t like the person.
  • You don’t do useless, small talks on festivals, anniversaries and birthdays, you are defying family values and bringing bad name to the family.
  • You don’t talk to far, unknown relatives (mind you who you might have as met a toddler or never met at all), you are not interested in carrying forward the relationships your family nurtured over decades.
  • You don’t contact a person who you met socially on WhatsApp or over a call after the meeting, you are rude.   

In short, mobile phones have become the yardsticks of how much you value your relationships! Whoa! We have reached another level of social evolution with the invention of mobile technology.

For someone like me who has to be online on Instant Messengers for business day in and day out, putting away my mobile phone is a luxury. It’s actually relaxing to be not talking to people who can’t understand your pauses and tiredness (and I say that in the personal as well as professional context). And, oh yes! This reminds me of another point that should go up the list:

  • You don’t sound enthusiastic over the phone, you were not happy talking to the person on the line!

The relationships, the camaraderie, the love – everything now is simply calculated by the talk time spent your mobile phone or the success with which you emote (or pretend) over this virtual medium of communication.

I, sometimes, wonder if there is a quantifiable metric to categorize people based on their monthly mobile expenses or availability to attend mobile calls. For example, someone who spends Rs.2500 and/or 1000 minutes talking over the mobile phone in 30 days is an Amicable Person (Level 2)!

I won’t be surprised if you tell me a metric like this is already in place!  I am ‘socially’ less connected, you see!

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