Friday, 13 July 2012

Have we become too mobile phone reliant?

This week mobile phone customers were left without coverage due to failings in the O2 network. Millions of customers were left without any mobile phone signal for around 36 hours.

Twitter and facebook, and the news sites were full of angry customers, all complaining about just how ridiculous it is that they were unable to use their mobile phones, either for talking, texting, or surfing the internet.

But this for me raises a different question – the question of just how reliant we as a society have become on the need to be in constant communication with one another, at all times, and that when we lose that means of communication, we become anxious.

I remember when I was growing up, the mobile phone didn’t yet exist, well not in mainstream format anyway. I knew a couple of people who had carphones, enormous bulky things they were, and we just concluded that they were posh, and rich, and, dare I say it, a little bit pretentious.

But then mobile phones became more widely available, and although we hadn’t yet entered a stage where permanent attachment had seemingly become a necessity, it had become more acceptable to own one, and people would be more reliant on being able to communicate with one another outside of the home.

Now mobile phones are an almost essential part of our daily lives, and contrary to twenty years ago, you are seen as somewhat outdated if you either don’t own one, or are not permanently attached to the one you do own. I’ve heard people get quite upset if someone doesn’t return their text messages within minutes, or doesn’t answer their mobile phone. Not being within reach of communication is no longer seen as acceptable.

So the question is, have we become too reliant on our mobile phones? If we drop out of communication for a time, what’s the worst that can really happen? And in fact, have we built up an expectation that all people should be reachable at all times, and that if they’re not there is something wrong with that?

How attached are you to your mobile? More to the point, how expectant are you of other people that they will have mobile phones which are both switched on and readily available?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the thought provoking post. Enjoyed remembering where we used to be in thinking of people with mobiles as being posh and preitentious and how that has changed. If we are only talking about the expectation that others are always available when you want them and the imediacy of a response to a text or that a call from us is answered then yes, we are expecting too much. For me though, the phone and texting are small parts now of my mobile communication. Mobility, office, product recognition; gaming; music playing; music creation... Are headings under which I use my mobile device. For these things, I don't have any expectation of others; they keep me from jumping up and down due to cell outage for a few hours and they prove that my life extends beyond the need to always be in touch with everyone. Ask if me if I could do without my mobile device and the answer is a lot more unsure... It is, one way or the other, an extension of my abilities and capababilities.