Saturday, October 06, 2012

Cellular Tyranny

Do you know any person, over 20 and under 65, and not totally incapacitated, who does not own or does not have access to a mobile phone?

Long heralded as the most powerful communication tool in the history of the world, the cell phone has put international communication in the hands of potentially every breathing humanoid on planet earth, and probably in space in the not too distant future. In the process, we are drowning under a deluge of information which no one is capable of assimilating or coping with. But we cannot claim to be uninformed, as long as we do not intentionally avoid the information tsunami.

But what is the broader picture? The all-pervasive impact of the mobile phone in every nook and cranny of our social milieu is undeniable. It is virtually impossible to have a conversation or meeting with someone without an intrusive phone message or call diverting attention away from whatever is being discussed or talked about. People cannot focus on tasks, other people or activities without the inevitable ping, buzz or vibration alerting you to someone out there demanding to be heard, noticed or responded to. Even when it comes to relaxing – silence, meditation, day dreaming or spending quality time with a partner – we are never alone – there is always a mobile phone hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce when we least expect it or want it. But can we ignore the hand of mobile? Oh no! Reply, respond, text… we obey without hesitation to avoid missing that important message or call. And most importantly – we are filled with fear and guilt when we ignore the clarion call – that irritating melody or chirping sound – which calls us to obey.

Yes. We are servants of a new order. We are obedient and subservient disciples. Our worship is unfaltering. We are in bondage to the universal cellular signal. Dare we become apostates and break free? Have you ever been able to leave your cell phone at home – and gone out for the day, or to visit a friend, or gone for a long walk in the forest or along the beach. Will you be wracked with guilt and fear about that message or call you dare not miss….?

Try it. You may be pleasantly surprised by the liberation and freedom you feel.

Or… you may be so tense and distraught at what you may be missing… that you will not be able to rest or enjoy yourself. If that is the case, you might need a cellular detox. Or you need to admit that you are addicted.

A cell phone is like alcohol. Great to enjoy in moderation, but a raging beast when it gets out of control and takes over your life. It takes discipline to switch it off when you are working, or visiting, or needing to take note of the real world around you, as opposed to the mini world calling for your attention. The need for discipline and cellular control has led to the development of creative alternatives to control your phone.

Probably one of the best applications out there is AwayFind. It will manage your emails and calendar alerts and has iPhone and Android apps. It prevents you checking your emails every 5 minutes – and ensures you receive important alerts via SMS, Voice Calls or via installed apps. The program also monitors your calls and messages and can intelligently help you customise the application to determine your important calls and those you can attend to later. Not only does it sort emails, it can notify you of topics you are following and emails from people you are meeting via a calendar alert. This is really worth looking at – free for 30days, and on a basic plan – but will cost from about R 40 per month for more advanced features.

Mobile phones can be a blessing – and have revolutionised communication and business efficiency – but ensure that you own your phone and not your phone owning you!

Lex's Techno Talk

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