Sun, 06 Feb 2000

Cellular phones are great, but...

Cellular phones are a great product, but they will not make you more attractive and they will not bring you closer to God.*

Neither will cell phones make your arrangements for Saturday nights any easier. For those of you who already own a cellular phone, or for those who, having read today's supplement, have plans to purchase one, here are three things to think about:

1) Your mobile phone will annoy people, especially those who are enjoying a communal activity or space, on a bus or a train, for example. The reason being a ringing phone is an intrusion of something private into somewhere public. Switch it off when need be. And, please, no more novelty rings. You know who you are.

2) You are not so important that you can disturb other people. Speak softly, feel slightly ashamed even. Learn the phrase, "I can't speak long, I'm on the mobile."

3) Avoid checking your phone for messages more than once an hour, even if the cell phones of everyone around you are ringing. Don't fiddle with your phone. If you need something to do with your hands, take up smoking -- a habit quite possibly less cancerous than prolonged use of a mobile anyhow.

Cellular phones are great, don't get me wrong. Once the preserve of drug dealers, international real estate agents and other undesirables, it now seems they are an essential piece of urban armor. However, it's time to get rid of your phone when you find yourself doing one of the following: You call people on their home phone and your first question is "Where are you?" You have your first compare and contrast features session with your friends, or, worse still, someone you've just met. Or you start thinking that somehow upgrading your phone might improve the quality of your life. (cjb)

* Unless, of course, He's got one too. And it's not always switched off.