The Curse of Mobile Phones

“It’s a strange thing, but people in Britain still whisper when sharing a confidence face to face, but give them a mobile phone, a seat in a railway carriage and a sexually transmitted disease then they will share the information with everyone” – Bill Bryson.

On 10th March 1876 Alexander Graham Bell made his first telephone call and now no one can stop using the infernal contraption.

I know that they are a useful addition to modern life but I went to London for a couple of days this week and on my return train journey I had the misfortune to select a seat in a carriage full of serial mobile phone users.  I am grateful for mobile phones of course but I wish people would have the good manners to use them considerately and have a thought for other people when they do so.  In virtually every public place you go now people are shouting into mobile phones and there are few things more irritating than being compelled to eavesdrop on one half of a conversation.

The worst place of all is on the train where dozens of commuters insist daily on competing with each other to have the loudest conversation which all end at exactly the same time with the words “Just a minute I’m going into a tunnel, hello, hello, HELLO, HELLO”, followed by frantic animated redialing, a repeated conversation and another tunnel, followed by….

The only place that it is safe from mobile phone madness is in an aeroplane and I have been distressed to learn that soon this last sanctuary will be removed because Ryanair are proposing imminently to allow their use on board; I can imagine it now “Just a minute I’m going into some turbulence, hello, hello, HELLO, HELLO”, followed by frantic animated redialing, a repeated conversation and more turbulence, followed by….

This will only add to the customary indiscipline of airline passengers.  I have noticed that almost as soon as a plane lands there is a clattering of seat belts being unbuckled before the seat belt light goes off, impatient rummaging through the overhead lockers to retrieve bags and the intensely irritating sound of mobile phones being switched on and the beep-beep of text messages being delivered.

Why can’t people do as they are told? You are not supposed to switch on mobile phones until in the terminal building, why can’t people wait?  These are two-hour flights to central Europe not a five-year mission to Mars!  One man even made a phone call simply to say ‘I’ve landed’, so what? was the recipient of the call going to run a flag up or turn a cartwheel or something.

16 responses to “The Curse of Mobile Phones

  1. Oh you must be most unhappy with the change of airline regulations to allow cell phones to be turned on at landing Andrew. 🙂

  2. Pingback: People Pictures – The Curse of the Mobile Phone | Have Bag, Will Travel

  3. Having commuted from Newark to London for years, much of this resonates with me

  4. They are one of the worst inventions for decades. They are a godsend to the terrorist, the drug dealer and the ordinary criminal. Coupled with social media they make kids in England the unhappiest in all of Europe.
    I think just about the only thing they are good for is in an emergency when ringing 999 is so much easier.

  5. I agree with you, Andrew. I used to find train journeys relaxing. If it’s absolutely necessary to inform everyone of your whereabouts then why not send a text.

    As for social media, Facebook etc, I was an early adopter and in its early days it was a pleasant place and a useful tool that enabled us to catchup with family when one or other of us was away from home and share photographs. Then the masses joined and ruined the experience. Today I cannot understand the obsession with it.
    Why anyone needs to announce to friends, colleagues and acquaintances that they feel a bit low today is beyond me – or share what they had for tea. It’s of no interest to anyone else, and yet they still do it and everyone else pretends to like it. Such a false life they all lead.

  6. I think we need a new word, other than “eavesdropping”, to describe unwanted audio input from friends and strangers…and also one for the act of exposing intimate details to strangers by speaking loudly into your cell phone.

  7. It resonates with me, too. I’m lucky in that my train ride from Portsmouth to London is done on a line that has a ‘Silent carriage’ where mobiles are banned, such a relief. If outside of my home and I’m with someone who starts speaking on the phone I just quietly walk away and later explain, when asked, that I presumed our conversation was at an end as they had started another one in which I wasn’t included. It usually leads to an apology, but a change of heart? I doubt it.

  8. Yes!! I really dislike using the phone and have mine on silent all the time. I use it in emergencies and prefer to text people if I need to get in touch with them. Train journeys are spoilt by phone-users.

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