too long ago I was on the phone about putting my
mobile on to roaming, so I could use it in whilst
in Ireland. It soon occurred to me just how much
these people know about you. For instance, all I
had to give them was my post code and the operator
was able to give me more information about myself
than a metre of DNA. All of a sudden I was being
asked to confirm that I lived at Stuart court, in
what number is that?' asked the girl.
right,' she confirmed.
of course it's right, I should know I live there.
girl then asked for my password. Well I wasn't even
aware that I had set one up. 'Err, I didn't know I
had one!' I replied, somewhat dimly.
she replied and then told me what it was. Duh! I could
have been anyone. I was then passed on to another
operator because her computer was down. Well if she
was able to know so much about me from a computer
that wasn't working properly, then I dread to think
what sort of things she could tell me about myself
on a working computer.
new operator then proceeded to tell me that I had
to change my phone from Pay As You Go to a monthly
billing account, where they would collect the bill
via a direct debit from my personal bank account.
In order to debit my bank account each month with
the charges all I had to do was give them two recent
addresses (of which I'm sure he already had), my bank
account number and sort code and it was all done.
I have to sign anything?' I asked, displaying my obvious
ignorance in such matters.
replied the operator, sympathetically. 'It is a paperless
course, how silly of me. It seems that I'm not needed
for anything whatsoever relating to my money or personal
business anymore. So, if you want to know all about
me and also access my personal bank account then all
you have to do is phone my mobile company and give them
my post code. I'm joking of course, but it is quite
scary how much these people know about you. It's also
quite scary how these companies can take your money
off of you without your written authority. Mind you
it is comforting to know that should I ever forget
my pin number when trying to get some money from the
ATM in a severely intoxicated state one Saturday night,
all I have to do is phone my mobile network.
What actually fuels this accelerated growth in technology
is, ironically, mankind's laziness. It can't be helped
because we are just lazy by nature. It's in our nature
to find easier, more efficient ways of doing things.
Notice how when there is a path going round a square
of grass, then there will be a manmade path trodden
across that grass where people, instead of taking
a few more seconds to go round, have instead cut across.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go. I do
it myself. What I'm trying to say is that we are generally
lazy, and it's this laziness that has advanced us
technologically over the recent years. If you think
about it, there really isn't a need for the average
person to have a mobile phone. Unless you are a trader
or a businessman I'm sure that what you have to say
could easily wait until you get home to a landline.
But we like the convenience of it all. We like the
fact that we no longer have to be bored on a train
and can now phone a friend and bore them also by saying
things like 'Hi I'm on the train.' Or that we no longer
have to suffer the agonising boredom of waiting in
line for five minutes for something and can make the
time more interesting by sending someone a pointless
text message. The same could be said for the fact
that I didn't have to bother with the hassle of paperwork
to setup my direct debit. It's also great that you
don't have to bother remembering to go to the ATM
and get money all the time, all you have to do is
produce a piece of plastic to pay for your shopping.
But have you noticed lately just how the people who
take your card and swipe it, then either give it straight
back to you, or not even bother to compare your signature
against the one on the card?
point of all this is that although we are being swept
up daily by these technological wonders which are
helping to make our lives more easier and therefore
freeing us from all the mundane hassles that we would
rather do without, we really should take the time
to think about whether this is actually improving
the quality of our lives. Sure it's useful that when
you are in the clothes shop you can phone your mother
and ask if dad would like a navy blue sweater with
red stripes that is two sizes too small for him for
his birthday; or can phone your wife to tell her to
delay dinner because you are stuck in traffic; or
can even phone on the way to the pub to tell your
friends that you are running late (as if they didn't
already know that). It's also good to know, if you
are leaving in two days time like I was, that you
wont have to bother waiting for a form to come in
the post for you to sign and send back because your
signature is no longer needed. Technology can do it
all for you, leaving you with lots of time on your
hands to phone your friends for no particular reason
other than to pass all this free time you now have
because you no longer need to go to the bank and get
money out for the shopping; or fill in forms to authorise
companies to take money from your account on a monthly
basis; or any of the other things that would fill
up your otherwise empty day. Just remember this, at
the same time as you are sat in the pub welcoming
these ways of facilitating methods of payment, or
ways for us to talk to each other, we are also slowly
handing over control of our finances to machines that
are actually making it easier for others to help themselves
to our money, and who will soon more than likely tell
you things about yourself that you had completely
forgotten, or didn't know in the first place. So I
ask you, is technology taking over our lives?
I'll leave you to decide
that while I go down the pub. But first I have to
phone Virgin Mobile and ask them if they know where
I left my wallet.
we are on this daring subject, I would like to point
out a major oversight in the manufacture of mobile
phone accessories. The makers, in their infinite wisdom,
saw fit to make the Hands Free Kit. This wonderful
piece of equipment, if used, can stop the driver from
veering across the road, whilst telling his wife that
he is just ten minutes away from home, into another
driver who is busy using his phone and not able to
maneuver out of the way in time. But the manufacturers
were obviously oblivious to the dangers of text messaging
while walking. Now how many times have you observed
people walking along the street, head down and firmly
fixed on that tiny screen, finger rapidly punching
out a reply to their friend, mother or whomever, that
really could have waited a few more minutes? Or they
could have at least sat down to do it. Instead they
continue walking along oblivious to anything in their
path or the fact that a road full of cars is about
to suddenly be underfoot. One of these days, and I
am surprised it hasn't already happened, there will
be a spate of injuries caused by this that will inevitably
result in the users suing the mobile phone companies
for not providing them with an Eyes Free Kit.
I'm sure this warning will never be heeded, and instead
the companies will continue to concentrate their efforts
on how to make the phones smaller, resulting in the
ultimate of ironies wherein a man will wander into
the pub and proudly place his phone down on the bar
as he drinks his pint. A second man will enter, stand
next to him and think, as he orders his pint, 'Ha!
Mine's smaller than yours.'