Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

The Friday rant - 27.05.11

Most of us have one, and we use them now for almost anything it seems. Mobile phones. I can't tell you how much I despise them, but perhaps not for the reasons you might initially think. OK, so I am not going to deny how useful it can often be to stay in touch and so easily communicate with people - when you've got a signal that is. You would think I lived in the middle of nowhere with the rubbish mobile signal I get in my house. And I don't want any clever comments about living in Cornwall !! I have had a mobile phone from I think about the first TV series I was involved with - my inner executive coming out of course, but it's that whole expected to stay or keep in touch thing that I have come to despise with a passion......

Is it just me, or do any of you also agree that it's got to the stage now that we are essentially expected to be contactable nearly all the time these days ? What ever happened to being completely out of touch and just getting on with stuff ? I remember one of the first times that I had to go away for work to a place where we had no mobile reception and internet access, and I was very worried that in the two weeks or so that I was away that my whole business would come crashing down around my ears. But of course it didn't, yet I still worry a bit when I head to somewhere like St. Brandon's and don't have the ability to communicate with anybody. I despise mobile phones especially for making me worry feel like this, because actually being out of touch is wonderfully refreshing. But on the other hand I also really like being out of touch with the world. I love speaking with my family when possible, but we function just fine when I am away and uncontactable. If you ask me, people need to learn to turn their mobiles off a whole lot more and bask in the peace of just getting on with things. We used to get along just fine with them before they turned up, and if I am honest I think it's one bit of technology that I would like to turn the clock back on and make sure they never got invented. Do mobiles really improve our lives ?

Am I also the only person without an iPhone ? Am I old fashioned to want my phone to do nothing more than make calls and send the odd text message ? I remember a salesman trying to sell me an upgrade because the phone had such a good camera on it, but I tried explaining that I took photos for a living and that I was never going to point my stupid mobile phone at somebody to take a rubbish, pixelated and underexposed photograph. I can perfectly easily use my own cameras to do this !! Eventually I think I walked out of the shop in disgust. Every time my phone company tells me I am due for an upgrade I try to find the simplest looking phone possible that has big buttons and looks easy to use, but every year they seem to be getting smaller and harder to use. Why on earth would I want to access the internet on my phone when the net is such a big part of my working life as it is ? I have enough of it during the daytime, and the last thing I want to then do is to hook up when I am out and about. And why can't the phone companies at least agree on a standard mobile phone charger so that we can all stop collecting such a stupid number of different chargers ? Do I really need some app that tells me what time it is in the Ukraine, or to tell me how to get around London when there are perfectly good tube maps all over the stations ?

I am going to save my utter revulsion at text speak for another time (m8, gr8, lol, aaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh, help me), but I can't abide the way that making plans either via text or calling seems to have gone out of the window with our mobile phone culture. Firstly I don't understand most of the text messages that are actually sent to me because of this wretched text speak culture, and secondly I can't see why people are so reluctant these days to actually make a plan and stick to it. Why does the fact that we can so easily contact each other make it any less necessary to make a decision, form a plan, and then stick to it ?

I have no problem with most of the world who want to spend all their time buried in their mobiles, whether they are making endless calls about nothing very important, texting some written garbage, using the internet or playing with really useful apps. Fire away and let the world slip by you in a haze of bright screens, fiddly little buttons, touch screens and rip off tariffs. I'll carry on loving the experience of living on this awesome planet. As for Blackberries, don't even get me started. Somebody I know told me recently that they had to take their Blackberry on honeymoon with them because the office needed them to keep in touch so much. Rubbish. What would have that office done in the days before Blackberries ? We let ourselves be suckered in to thinking we are indispensible when in fact we should be speaking up for the need to be out of touch. I would love to see all Blackberries summarily smashed into millions of pieces and ground down into building materials for the third world, and then we could take all these so called smart phones and force feed them to the companies who tell us that we can't do without them.

But do you know what really gets my goat ? OK, so if a mobile phone is a great way of keeping in touch, then how come nearly every single time I try and call my wife she never replies ? She's either left the thing at home or she doesn't hear it ring. Or is that my wife playing me at my own game and standing up for her perfectly rightful need to be out of contact ? And as for a mobile phone being a really useful safety device for when you are out fishing - never heard such balls. Drop down behind a rock anywhere around here and you lose signal, and if a mobile so much as sees a drop of water then they have an instant heart attack and give up the ghost anyway. How many of you remember TWBMP ? The World Before Mobile Phones. I do. Let's all stamp up and down on our mobiles in protest. But hang on a minute, is that a really important business call coming in, about to tell me how indispensible I am, and that so and so can't get by without by valued input ? I think not. No, it's a text message trying to tell me that I can claim on some car accident I never had. Oh no it's not in fact, it's my phone company trying to sell me even more rubbish because they have my contact details and feel that they can do what they want with them. TWBMP.