SMS MSG 4 U - Watch Where You're Going!
I nearly got bowled over the other day. Just walking down the street minding my own business when - Bam! I became a walk by SMS victim. It used to be that the most annoying thing about mobile phones was their ring and the unwanted window seat into a total strangers bland personal life. However now a new threat has emerged, namely how to safely negotiate city streets infested by the terminally SMS'd. In their drunken, zombie like stagger these poor lost souls meander through life with their head down frantically pushing buttons oblivious to the outside world. At least the yuppie stockbrokers strutting along Collins Street with their hands-free units held like divining rods, watch where they are going.
It is quite amazing how a technology with a user friendliness quotient roughly equivalent to programming a 1980's VCR has taken the world by storm. However, repetitive button pushing and tiny screens appear to be little disincentive to the widespread adoption of the technology. In Japan and Europe last year, over 2 billion SMS messages were sent per month. Computer consultancy and systems integration company Logica
has forecast that by 2002 over 100 billion SMS messages will be sent worldwide. At that rate the risks of injury by walk by SMS could be very real indeed.
There is a sense of irony regarding the imminent introduction of GPRS and the fantabulous third generation of mobile handsets. As you step off the kerb into the path of the number 12 bus madly pressing buttons, at least the ambulance crews will have no problem finding you thanks to the inbuilt GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) system in your phone.
So how does one survive in this brave new wireless world? At the risk of sounding like a war veteran pining for the fifties, perhaps a little common courtesy and manners can reduce the risk of someone showing you a novel way to make your new Nokia hands-free. I suggest the following as a starting point.
- Phones have microphones so there is no need to shout. The only person who finds your life interesting is you and possibly the person on the other end of the line. So keep it down.
- Watch where you are going. Your phone won't self-destruct if you don't read the message the second you receive it.
- Just because you have got a snazzy hands-free unit it doesn't entitle you to carry on like you're the lead in Hamlet.
- The propensity to use a mobile whilst driving has an inverse relationship to the ability to actually perform the task safely. So pull over.
- If the only way to make yourself heard is to shout, perhaps you should go somewhere quieter - like outside the church. I went to a wedding once and I swear more people in attendance heard one idiots phone conversation than the marriage vows.
- Turn your phone off at concerts or the movies. A Macarena ring tone going off during the climactic scene of a Hollywood blockbuster is a valid manslaughter defense in some countries.
- Seymour Monkey