1st January, 2007
Most of us have a party in our pockets – those digital devices that promised a global village. We found that village, all right, and it is peopled with idiots. Plugged into iPods, chatting into palms, we are lost in techno-torpor enveloping us 24/7 from any locale.
Cell phones purportedly provide a sense of security – that is, when we are paying attention. Of all the gadgets in our digital arsenal, this one above all has undermined community. Only a few years ago, if you approached someone using a cell phone in public, that user would quickly end the call and apologise to the person in his or her interpersonal space. That etiquette soon changed. If interrupted, the cell phone user would apologise to the person on the other end of the cell phone call. More recently even that etiquette has changed – so much so, that interpersonal interaction has been nullified in the process.
A cell phone user now typically ignores any person within earshot. I call this ‘the “it” factor’. Users turn everyone in their presence into inanimate objects, an ‘it’, as if that person does not exist.
Consider the conversations that we overhear as if we were invisible, not really there, standing beside someone using a cell phone in a public place. The ‘it’ factor is all around us. Earlier this year, at the local post...
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