Mobile phones are an asset - and a bane - of modern life

For those who fancy a bit of nostalgia, there are still a couple of vandalised telephone boxes by Brighton Pier
For those who fancy a bit of nostalgia, there are still a couple of vandalised telephone boxes by Brighton Pier

We have to search pretty hard these days to find someone who does not carry a mobile phone.

We have to search pretty hard these days to find someone who does not carry a mobile phone. Almost as soon as a child is out of nappies, a mobile phone seems to become a must-have accessory.

Even the oldies who remember a mere 20 years ago, when most of us swore we would never get one, will rush back home if we have forgotten to pick it up in the morning.

Certainly, most people in business are absolutely lost without a mobile and it is hard to remember how we coped before they existed.

It cannot be denied that mobiles are an asset that have enhanced business life. No longer do we have to rush back to an office to respond to a list of calls or try to find a telephone box that has not been vandalised; for those who fancy a bit of nostalgia, there are still a couple of vandalised ones by Brighton Pier. Nor is it necessary to arrive home dreading the fact that, after your evening meal, you have to make some more calls.

There are, however, disadvantages to being too accessible. Rather than having time to think a problem through, it is easy to be caught off guard. This can result in snap decisions being made or perhaps the wrong response being given. I am sure we all know of cases where calls have not been ended properly, resulting in uncomplimentary things being said either end of the line.

It is also fairly easy, as I have discovered, to send a text to the wrong person. Which can be extremely embarrassing, depending on the content. My most embarrassing mistake was to send a text to a girlfriend, suggesting - as it was a cold night - we could cuddle up on the couch and watch a film. I then promptly sent it to a lady I had met twice through business. Not surprisingly, I received a somewhat confused response.

These intrusive contraptions are relied upon way too much, though, and are particularly annoying when some terribly important person decides to have a conversation or, in some cases, a whole series of conversations on public transport.

Never content with sending a text or holding a brief conversation, these individuals will not be properly fulfilled unless they share the content of their lives with the rest of their fellow travellers. Oh, and those wretched ring tones! It is always the person with that Mission Impossible ring tone or similar that never seems to shut up. "Oh we keep getting cut off, because I am on a train," we keep hearing from the terribly important person. Wait till you get off the ruddy train, we think, as we imagine inserting the offending mobile into the annoying terribly important fellow passenger.

I think the real problem with mobile phones, though, lies with young people - as they rely on them far too much. This is particularly true with young girls who seem to have them glued to their ears more or less permanently. It is quite common to see several on their way to school or wherever they are going. Each one will be having a conversation with - or be texting - someone else.

None of them is experiencing real life and, somewhere on the other end of the call, you know there is someone else not experiencing real life either. It's not just that it must affect social skills development, as none of them seem to be able to converse unless it is via a mobile.

We still do not know what effect this must-have accessory actually has on our health. Indeed, it amazes me that the very same people who are up in arms about radiation from mobile phone masts are very often the same people that are sending their offspring out into the world with a mobile glued to their ear.

It doesn't stop there either. If one's precious offspring are not actually talking to a piece of plastic, they are absorbed in listening to the latest reincarnation of whatever passes for music these days. Not a great idea when crossing busy roads or riding a bike, skateboard, or anything else that is used for transport in our city.

Of course, it's not only youngsters who carry on like this, because many people claiming to be adults can be seen wandering around, jogging, or on bikes, completely oblivious to the traffic around them. Indeed, we had a spate recently of several being run over and one has to wonder what on earth possesses people to think it is a good idea to take such an unnecessary risk with their lives.

Certainly, as far as road-users are concerned, the law should be applied to cyclists as well as cars. One rule for all: no headphones, and certainly no mobile phones, when using the road for any reason whatsoever.