Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Talking and Conversing

I was trying to get a hold of my brother most of the last week over his home phone. Trying, because I never got an answer. When, eventually, I did manage contact, the question that was raised was "why didn't you try my mobile".
Well, why didn't I?
Call me old fashioned, but I just can't talk to people on their mobiles. I mean, I can talk; but I can't TALK. I can't make a conversation. I can say something like "yeah, let's meet at 5:28 in the train station", but I cannot discuss the contradictions between the theory of relativity and quantum physics, if you catch my drift.
There are several reasons for that.
First, as Jo's sister will tell you, I am a tight ass, and mobile calls cost a lot (especially in Australia), and the thought of the meter running is cause enough for me to agree that John Howard is actually the best prime minister this country could ever have, thank you very much. [At this point I will add that I don't really think I'm a tight ass, given some of the things I spend my money on, but rather someone who likes to spend his money - which is basically made of the time of my life - on exactly what I want it to be spent on; I guess, though, that for most people that would make me fall under their exact definitions of "tight ass", yet I would disagree with their dictionary]
Second, as advanced as mobile technology gets, there are always enough connection problems to make any attempts for proper conversation go off the rails. You lose a lot when you move from "face to face" to "phone to phone", and that limited frequency range plus noise plus disconnections make it severely worse.
And then there's the third and most important reason: when you call someone on their mobile, you never know what you gonna get. How many times did your mobile phone spring on you while you were in/on the toilet? How many times did it ring while you were driving (yes - I know I'm weird, but I don't talk while I drive)? How many times did your mistress call while you were with the wife, or vice versa?
Anyway, the point is clear: Most of the time, you don't catch people on their mobiles while they are in a "let's have a proper conversation" frame of mind. By definition of the term "mobile", you catch them while they're doing something else, which tends to make you a pain in the ass rather than a partner for a meaningful conversation. And even if you are ready to converse when your mobile suddenly vibrates in your pocket, you're usually at a place where a conversation is not really an option: standing in the middle of a noisy street, or riding the train surrounded hundreds of others and sitting next to this smelly dude that reads Asimov's Science Fiction magazine.
I think Seinfeld's take on mobile phones, made more than ten years ago, is still very much valid and will probably continue to be so - unless our devotion to ourselves further progresses into the stage at which we no longer allow others to waste our time conversing with us: You don't call people on a mobile phone if you want to TALK to them.

1 comment:

Moshe Reuveni said...

Just how did I manage to forget mentioning radiation is beyond me.