Being social…. maintaining ‘mobile manners’

Mobile manners have been a topic of discussion since the time mobile phones came into our lives but unfortunately nothing much has happened beyond that. The manners are apparently going from bad to worse. I got an opportunity to stay in a hotel in the beautiful town of Leh in the Ladakh region of India in 1992. Mobile communication was not available those days and the Direct to home TV was just about establishing its base in India. It was one of the high-end hotels of the city but what surprised me was that there were no TV or phones in the room and no 24 X 7 restaurant. The meals were available only as per a strictly followed time schedule.

I could not help asking the manager the reason for such an arrangements and the prompt answer was ‘We cater for the guests who prefer peace of mind, want no unnecessary disturbances; they are here to enjoy the place, the peace and each other’s company, phones in hotel reception were available 24 X 7 if anyone wanted to contact them in emergency”. It was not surprising that I was the sole Indian occupying the room in that hotel rest all being foreign nationals.

Enter the Mobile Phones

did quite like the concept unaware at that point of time that a gadget called a smart mobile phone was soon going to hit the markets which will radically change my thought process. From the time the first mobile phone call was made in India between the then CM of Bengal sitting at Kolkatta and the then Union Minister of Communication at Delhi there has been a steady growth in the quality of communication. The phones are getting smarter are not jjust providing uninterrupted communication but even having the power of intruding into the private space between spouses.

It took no time for my thinking to change from ‘enjoying the peace’ to ‘how can I live without the smartphone’. The phone became indispensable part of life and in fact grew smarter than me and made way from pockets to bedroom to dining room to even bathroom/ toilets (some people do not even want to shit in peace??). The mobile phones got the communication, tv, photography, music, time and answer to any question within the grip of the palm.

How cool I felt just flashing the latest gadget in my hand making a call or just scrolling for latest messages or NEWS or just taking a walk with ear phones on listening to my favourite music. It was quite late in life the realisation dawned on me that the mobile phone had taken over major part of my life. I could not step out of the door without the phone safely tucked in my pocket. Attending to the message pings became more important than the real life conversation going on with the spouse or an office colleague. Clicking a pic or selfie became a sort of an addiction, mobile phone started taking over ‘every space’ in my life.

The realisation and the change….

I struggled to find answer to the question ‘Was I scrolling the phone at midnight because I was not getting sleep or Was I awake because my mind was obsessed with the mobile?’. This is where I decided to take a pause to see if any correction was required knowing fully well that adopting any change with respect to mobile usage was not going to be easy at all. Yet, with some determination I did manage to incorporate some basic changes and improve my ‘mobile manners’.

The first change was to switch off the notifications for all incoming messages to cut down one source of distraction. Second change was a bit difficult to adopt but I still went ahead and left all social media groups I was member of; now people can only contact me through my personal number. This proved to be very useful especially in this COVID time as I remained blissfully unaware of all the Virus-related fears and cures being spread without a thought on the social media. Media ie social and the NEWS channels have spread the Corona far more than it has spread in reality by targeting the mind. Third change was keeping the phone away while eating; Meal times are now strictly family times with no interference from anyone.

The fourth change is maintaining social distance from the phone during sleep time. The mobile phone is kept six feet away from bed and the landline has been moved out of the bedroom. The other changes in lifestyle include picking up the phone in the morning only after brush, shave and the morning tea. This combined with no NEWS channel during morning hours help in keeping the mind at peace. The last change has been to leave the earphones home during the walks; the sound of nature has a much more calming effect than any song.

I recommend to all you readers to try bringing in some of these changes in the ‘mobile manners’ if not all and trust me, these small lifestyle changes have made life much more cool, calm and meaningful.

“Ghar per do gaz ki doori bhut hai zaroori from the mobile to maintain peace of mind” (Good mobile manners and maintaining six feet distance from the phone whenever possible will certainly help in maintaining peace of mind)