By Patrick Whiteley
I am trying to muster the courage to throw away my mobile phone in a bid to enjoy a more peaceful and ring-free life.
Can you imagine not having your mobile phone? In our high-tech, in-a-hurry age in which we must do, say, see and hear everything "now", a cell-free life is a hard concept to swallow. Our mobile phones can now access the internet, and many people feel the need to express their every thought on their Facebook pages. If I walked around the office sticking up posters, which said "I'm in control", and "I'm taking 10 deep breaths", people would think I was nuts. I think this communication caper is getting out of hand.
I wish I had the strength to toss my technology away and get back to basics. I have an office phone, a home phone, e-mail and if people want to contact me they can. If I'm out and about, people can leave a message. Do they really need to grab me 24/7? However, I'm a bit like Frodo in Lord of the Rings. The power of the ring is too strong and I can't let it go.
Mobile phones have become essential tools in our busy life. For most people, they hold all contacts and many of us don't write up address books any more. The people in our lives are all stored on a machine.
The latest phones carry our music, pictures, movies and everything else. We feel lost without this device and when we do misplace it, we feel cut off from our fellows.
"Where have you been?" said a friend, who saw me a week after I lost my cell. "I tried calling you, but you disappeared. You vanished off the face of the Earth."
When you don't have a mobile phone, you don't exist.
The power of the ring grows stronger. As Frodo discovered: "One ring to rule them all."
I recently met a new expat, who has never owned a cell phone and vows he never will. He has also never worn a watch. Many will think this odd chap is out of time in more ways than one, but after my amazement settled, I have come to believe this American guy is onto something. David feels that a mobile phone acts like one of those ankle bracelets prisoners have to wear when serving home detention.
He doesn't feel the need to be available every hour and strongly feels a mobile disturbs his peace.
He's a big fan of his home phone, his office phone, and the e-mail system. All serve his communication needs well, but after his work is done, he doesn't want to become an open book for everybody to read. There was a time, less than 20 years ago, when nobody had cell phones, and surprisingly, life was dandy. We all had to organize things a little earlier, that's all.
As a teenager growing up in Sydney, I loved going to the downtown cinema on weekends with my school friends.
At a pre-arranged time, we would gather on the steps of the Town Hall, a well-known meeting place. We allowed a 30-minute window of error, and if someone didn't show up we would call their home (by public telephone) and find out the problem. If someone missed a train, bus or was held up in any way, they would normally call their home, alert their mother, who would pass on the information to incoming callers. But the power of the ring has gripped me in a land that has more mobiles than anywhere else.
Twenty years ago, when China introduced its first mobile telecommunications equipment, there were little more than 700 users. In 2001, cell phone users passed the 100 million mark and now China has more than 600 million mobile phones and rising.
I'm not really going to throw my mobile phone away, in fact, the iPhone featured on this page is enticing me more than ever before. It allows me to communicate to the people who matter. Us humans are such social animals and mobile phones serve us well. But in 2009, I've decided not to serve my mobile phone. Like all machines, I can always turn it off.
(China Daily 12/22/2008 page10)