To buy or not to buy: Cell Phones

Sunday Vijay Times, Bangalore, 26 September 2004

To buy or not to buy, is a complicated decision for some and a matter of urgent necessity for others who want to possess a cell phone. Earlier, you were noticed if you carried a cell phone; and today you are noticed if you don’t carry a cell phone!

On the road to freedom, one among the line of acquisitions of a young person is a cell phone, along with a bike and a job. Mahima, a student, says, “It is more of an an advantage to those who want to get in touch with me. But it works both ways. Now that I have a cell phone,when I don’t receive a message for some time, I feel unwanted!”.

To most people, it is usually a matter of connectivity and being reachable.A lot of service providers lure customers with specialised utilities that are quite handy. Hutch, for example, gives you live updates on cricket. Spice and BSNL even offer services like astrology. Accessing the Internet, checking mail and downloading ring tones are other facilities that your service provider will offer you. Even religious services like sermons for Christians or the Azan or call to prayer for Muslims, sending prayers by SMS to a temple, are all now quite common via cell phones.

While it makes many things easier, obviously with every new technology comes the downslide in our ability to perform the action that the machine  performs for us. Now that you have a phone you don’t have to memorise phone numbers because they are stored in the memory of the handset. You could use your calculator for simple calculations. SMS has been changing the way we communicate to some extent. You don’t bother with courtesies anymore. .Short and curt is all you need to be in a message.

Communication technologies create possibilities for wider and newer networks. Thousands of people have found dates and relationships through bluetooth, a wireless technology that connects your computer and phone to other people and helps you access people with similar interests.

Business people find the cell phone indispensable- be it to check the latest stock market news or to communicate with clients round the clock.In many districts of north Karnataka, SMS and cell phones have made communicating so much cheaper for businessmen in small-scale industries,says Nirali, who has researched the use of cell phones in small businesses in Karnataka.

Games are another feature which are used very often. Kids and adults both use phones to play simple games.Having a cell phone is also a good way to avoid conversation and eye contact with people! In situations of enforced proximity one can use the phone as a preoccupation.

Phones with cameras are in vogue, but they are expensive and only of appeal as an accessory.There are those who depend on their cell-phones for the minutest thing. Suraj, who works in an event management company hardly has time to run errands. So he uses his phone for everything – from banking to laundry. “I have realised how easy it is to access various services”, he says.

But, with the increasing use of phones comes the nuisance aspect of them. Very few people realise how much of an annoyance they can be to those around. Simple etiquettes such as switching off a phone during a performance or class, or speaking less loud when in a public place, seem to have been forgotten.Theoretically, the cell phone could soon become an extension of your body and nervous system. If you consider man as a part of many networks and communities,then the phone and the computer are his indispensable tools for existing, like added organs to stay wired or rather, wireless.


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