Saturday, 26 July 2008
When I was growing up, few of my friends had house phones and mobiles were yet to be deeveloped. Nowadays, everybody seems to have at least one phone in some form or another and we all seem to be expected to be available at any given time.
I’ve no idea how many times my mobile’s gone off while I’m visiting with friends, having dinner in a pub, or standing in a supermarket checkout queue. My house phone has rung while I’m up to my elbows in washing, have my hands full of dough, or am in the middle of eating dinner. Yet time after time the caller has refused to respect that I didn’t want to or couldn’t talk right then. “Just let me tell you about…” seems to be the standard response to my “I can’t talk right now”.
I find it rude when my guests spend 10-15 minutes or more on the phone while I’m sat there like a dumb banana twiddling my thumbs and hearing half a conversation. In fact I once had I guest spend more than an hour on her mobile, talking to her other half who she'd be seeing the next day anyway!
When I’m socialising, I concentrate on those I’m socialising with, not those who are making unnecessary demands on my time and I expect other reasonably sensible people to do the same.
Do we really believe we’re so important that we have to take every call? Do others really have a right to demand our time in any situation?
Phones obviously have a place in our modern society but the fact that the UK has 115 mobile phones for every 100 inhabitants* (and we're talking the civilian network here - business phones aren't included) says a lot about how important we think it is that we should be contactable at any time and in any place. When Lise arrived for a visit I had no idea which number she'd be contactable on because she has THREE! One that she sends texts with, one that she calls with, and one "just in case...". I have enough trouble finding my single phone half of the time so how I'd get on with three is anybody's guess.
It’s years now since I’ve been dependant on answering the phone. If it isn’t suitable to talk - and that could be just because I don’t feel like talking - I don’t answer it. I figure that if it’s important they’ll either leave a message or text me; if they don’t then they couldn’t have wanted to get hold of me that badly. Nowadays, being less dependant on my phone helps keep my life simple. I'm not stressed by a ringing phone that I'm unable to answer in the way some people are.
Some say I’m being ignorant and selfish by ignoring a ringing telephone but I say I’m protecting my right to privacy. We do still have that right, don’t we?
* Source: Eurostat