For those of us who aren’t newlywed soldiers

Barring newborn babies and yet undiscovered tribes of cannibals in Fiji and the Andamans, it is a safe assumption that pretty soon every human being on this planet will be carrying a mobile phone.

That is because a) human beings love to talk to each other, and as countless mobile service provider ads tells us, b) this is a good thing. This is also borne out by psychiatrists, Moms, well-intentioned HR people, United Nations officials and hostage negotiators. “Just talk it out”. Note to self: ‘Google this line. See if it’s taken. It has all the makings of a telecom pitch winning slogan’. After all, somebody at some point of time, thought all these lines were brilliant. And must have sealed the deal and won the pitch.

‘Reach out and touch someone’ AT&T
‘Connecting people’ Nokia
‘It’s good to talk’ British Telecom
‘Stick together’ T-mobile
‘Dil jo chaahe paas laye’ Airtel
‘Dil ki baat’ Airtel
‘Let’s talk’ LG

Cut to visuals of lonely soldiers in Siachen talking to their wives and sad grand-dads who go into a paroxysm of joy when their impossibly cute grand child calls them.

It’s all the same fucking thing actually. ‘Reach out and touch someone’  is the same as ‘Connecting people’ is the same as ‘It’s good to talk’. Like ‘Impossible is nothing’ and ‘Just do it’ are actually the same thing.

Somebody digs out the highest order benefit of the category and try and figure different ways to put their flag on it. Brand laddering is the more wanky term for it.

So if all these marketing geniuses and psychiatrists and moms across the world have nailed this as the great human truth behind talking, why do I hate it so much?

I hate incoming calls. They are a vexation. Don’t mind incoming texts so much. But I hate having to chat with people, even friends and family when it’s not at my convenience. And convenience is an outgoing call. Because I get to choose my moment of leisure to have a chat. Incoming calls invariably interrupt. And most people with non-ADHD levels of concentration do not like to be interrupted while they’re in the middle of doing something.

It could also be that I am a hateful misanthrope who should be locked up in solitary confinement. But it turns out I’m not alone. As I found out, there are loads of other, sane, people-loving sorts who hate incoming calls. Not loads really. But a few, at least.

This obviously does not include the lonely soldier in Siachen or sad granddads or lovelorn teenagers.

Does anybody have any concern for us Self-centred Non-Needy types?

There are some of us who aren’t newlywed soldiers you know.

That’s why I suggest we write of Rules of Etiquette for Self-centred Non-Needy People. Not too many rules in there. Just one actually.

‘Unless there’s a specific reason, don’t call. Ever.’

And a corollary:
‘If you really, really have to call, text first. Or e-mail.’

The mobile phone is a tremendously useful tool. It is vital for any sort of business communication and also good for locating lost people and killing time while you’re at the dentist’s. In the early hours of the morning, its light is also useful to find your slippers at the foot of the bed.

But it is also an obnoxious instrument that is a ruiner of concentration and moments of solitude.

So, if it’s alright with you, I would prefer very much if you would, whenever you feel the uncontrollable urge, reach out and touch someone else.

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