A check out girl from Sainsbury’s has had the courage to alert us to our increasingly bad behaviour.
Throughout the years, I have watched what we do with our mobile phones with growing disbelief. I have come to one conclusion: we are no longer in control of ourselves. Now a little piece of plastic rules, although smaller than a postcard. It is scary stuff.
Have you seen the youngsters crossing the road with the ear plugs wedged into their ears? When they are knocked down because they have not heard, or been looking for, approaching cars, the Council will introduce traffic calming measures. I find it difficult to justify the logic that produces this solution, or the belief that this will solve the problem. When did you last see a child being taught to cross the road? When traffic first became a danger, STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! was on every child’s lips and written on the front of every jotter. We saw the message daily, and heard it again and again. Now we need lollipop ladies – we are no longer self reliant.
Have you seen young Mums, no longer spending time with their infant, but pressing keys on their keypad? What will the children do when they grow up, do you think? Copy adult behaviour. They may not be able to converse or spell, but they will be able to text. Let’s hope it gets them employment.
Observing the complete lack of verbal control, never mind matters of privacy, my mind has boggled frequently. I am now privy to the most personal of fights, information, medical conditions, and strangers’ diaries. I know who is getting better , worse, unemployed or passed their exam. I do not seek to know any of these facts, in this age of such strict data control, but due to a public outbreak of verbal diarrhoea , and incredible lack of inhibition, I have no option . We now need to keep everyone up to date with everything. I have watched University professors offer their carefully prepared lectures to students,who find it impossible to concentrate because they must respond to a poke on Facebook. How will they fare in employment? I have not heard of University lecturers possessing the courage to ban the phone for an hour or two. I find this thought provoking, considering the cost of tuition.
Meanwhile, the flow of vital information rushes on a a continual torrent.
“I’ve just got on the train” “I’ve just got off the train” “I’m near London” “I’m going to Ayr.” rank alongside “Mum’s had a heart attack” and “Dad’s just starting his chemotherapy”
It is a tragedy.
We were once private people. At home, we did not use the phone if anyone was listening. In public, we used phone boxes to keep our conversations personal and private. If someone took a phone-call when we were in the room, we left them to have privacy. Now we let it all hang out. We. don’t care who hears, be it check out girl or class mate, passenger or friend. And what of the hours the University Lecturer spent making his lecture interesting? We don’t care.
Even more fascinating, private messages are pushed or forwarded without consent, with no thought or consideration. To me that is every bit as bad as press intrusion; I would not want everyone to read my mail. Equally, when I converse with one person by email. I do not expect it to be shared. However, in this area, Nobody is in control – everybody must share. There is no law against this kind of intrusion, except choosing your friends carefully or understanding that what you write might be passed on.
This is our toy to play with, and we can decide who gets to know what.
Nothing stops us picking up the phone during mealtimes, while in the toilet, at the doctors, or in the classroom. Moreover, we see nothing wrong in it.
What can phones NOT do?
1. They will never,ever replace a person.
2. They will prevent you appreciating what is around you, and reduce your awareness.
3. They prevent a safe environment, as theyare an astonishingly dangerous distraction .
4. They prevent us from acting thoughtfully – or without any appreciation of how the other person present/ listening to the call, might feel.This sympathy to how the other person feels, which normally governs behaviour, is called manners. Good manners hinge on treating the other person in a way that they find comfortable and considerate. By acting thoughtlessly, we have assumed the careless behaviour of a child. We have lost our manners. We seem to enter that “mobile land” where there is no pride and no shame.
5. They can prevent the development of imagination and literary skills.
As we have allowed mobile phones to remove our manners, we have become less caring and less aware. But a bigger question than that is:DOES IT MATTER? (as long as we have the latest App?)
I believe that eventually it will have a huge impact. Our behaviour is critical, and is the sole area over which we have control . We have no power over Government or politics, economy or health. We can only control our own attitude and how we react to each situation. We are rapidly surrendering that power.
In vain do we recite: “The price of freedom is vigilance.”
Many have lost the cutting edge of awareness: many are now approaching semi consciousness without knowing it. But if, and when, we wake up, and could find that we are no longer masters of our own destiny; that we have become dependent and reliant for our happiness on a piece of plastic. As proof: If I asked you to give up your phone for a month, could you? Would you? Or are you hooked, like the alcoholic?
It took us a centuries to become civilized, well- mannered citizens. The descent from that state is so rapid as to be breathtaking.
We need to be taught how to use them sensitively, courteously and politely. And safely.
Then we can seize the reigns again.