My kingdom for a charger

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My kingdom for a charger

Published: Fri 24 May 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 24 May 2019, 2:00 AM

A friend of mine has increased his popularity by creating a corner in his home stacked with phone chargers. So, if he has people over, they can charge their phones and not be miserable because the battery has drained. He said he got tired of people coming over and being inattentive or downright desperate because their mobile phones were not charged. They would be miserable and the whole evening would be ruined. Some of them would even leave early, because they just had to get back up to 60 per cent or whatever.
They would be miserable sitting there looking at the 'low power' and feeling they were about to become prisoners of war. Now, they are thrilled they can stay live and not keep saying gottachargerpliss.
I have bought a dozen different ones so my social life has improved exponentially, he says.
Mobile phone etiquette has gone berserk and despair has reached incredible heights. Semi-strangers think nothing of walking into your place and saying, you have Wi-Fi?
Reluctantly, you plead guilty, yes, I do.
Give me the username.
What's the password?
As nonchalant as you please, not even considering it is a liberty. Helloooo, just a second. It is my Wi-Fi and it is my password, why should I give it to you? This is not a public place, this is my private connection and I do not wish to share my password with you. And now, if you say that, they get all waspish and prissy and cannot believe it bothers you.
Mobile phone madness has really begun to hold us at ransom. First, the rudeness. We think nothing of sitting at someone's place and WhatsApping away without even looking up. Even saying excuse me, I have to make/take a call has become redundant. The host is talking to us and we are looking at messages. We get into elevators and, impervious to everyone else, we continue a private conversation in the confined space with office or home. The bad manners proliferate to such an extent you can sit in a room of ten people and nine are on the phone, so you might well ask why have they got together in the first place, seeing that the tenth is probably looking for a charger. You think I am exaggerating but, on my honour, I have seen a person at a dinner so distraught because his phone was dying that he actually sent his driver off to buy a new charger and bring it to the party, because the very idea of spending two hours with no phone was packed with panic. The new charger was finally brought in with much ceremony - only it turned out (scout's honour) to be the wrong one (though the same phone brand) and, deep into withdrawal symptoms, the man literally went apoplectic with his driver. And you would have thought, migoodness, he hasn't had his BP meds, like it was a matter of life or death.
I don't think we have realised how enslaved this little eight-ounce monster has made us. A friend of mine left his phone in the airport lounge and realised it only when the aircraft was about to taxi to the runway and you would think the man's whole family had been kidnapped. He was inconsolable. Like this was the worst possible catastrophe that could have occurred.
Speaking of planes, have you seen how stupid some of us are in our conduct? There is the inflight crew, imploring this passenger to please switch off the phone, we are taking off, please sir, but will sir listen? No way. Till the last moment and beyond, he has to be in touch with somebody somewhere. If you believe you are that vital, then don't travel, stay where you are.
Remember the Charlie Brown cartoon and little Linus with his security blanket. I believe that, for thousands of people, the mobile is an equivalent surrogate. Without it, they are wildly insecure. Just recently, at a red light stop, I saw five people in a car, all of them on their phones, including the driver, and when you see something so ridiculous, you begin to wonder where this madness will take us.
In a way, from the light funny ha ha peculiar texture of this piece to a sudden seriousness, it is kind of sad that we need this crutch and are so pathetically helpless without it. What it has done besides its obvious advantages in the realm of communications is expose our loneliness as individuals and our need for some sort of benediction. Go on, admit it, when you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is reach out for your phone and if there are no messages, no emails, no WhatsApp drivel replete with emojis, what happens? You feel lost and cheated and dismayed and depressed that the night went by and no one needed you, the world managed to get by, nobody called, not even some boring sales pitch.
That sense of feeling redundant is almost medical in its intensity and that is what this phone has done to us. It has systematically destroyed our self-esteem, our confidence and our sanity.
Make it a good servant but do not let it become a bad master.
wknd@khaleejtimes.com

By Bikram Vohra

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