It’s email. Not a life support system.

phone skills for teens

This week, for some people, the world ground to a halt.

I was sitting in the car listening to the news yesterday and heard a vox pop interview with a man on the street who was describing what he termed a “catastrophe”.

His BlackBerry had stopped working.

Yes. For close to six hours, this man had no mobile access to email or Facebook. This was such a serious problem that he had gone out and bought a brand new smartphone. “I won’t ever buy a BlackBerry again,” he declared. “It’s just not worth the risk.”


If I was to draw up a list of things that a mobile network falling over IS, it might include things like:

  • inconvenient
  • disappointing
  • frustrating

However, pretty near the top of the list of things that a mobile network falling over IS NOT, right below ‘fatal’ would be ‘catastrophic’.

It’s not a catastrophe. It’s a moderate inconvenience. Get a grip. I know that some people don’t agree (feel free to tell me why in the comments) but I can’t bring myself to be THAT worked up about the collapse of the BlackBerry mobile data network.

As an old person, I’ve experienced working in a time-sensitive industry (journalism) during a time when it was considered pretty flash to go on a press trip with a laptop, and if you also had one of those little slot-in data cards that let you dial into the corporate VPN from your hotel room at the end of each day, well, you were practically a visitor from the future.

Yes, technology moves on and it makes things simpler, faster and more convenient. When stuff breaks, it’s annoying, especially if you’re paying for a service. But if my boiler breaks down for 48 hours, I don’t buy a new boiler or consider suicide – I put a jumper on.

I think it says something a bit sad about us if we can’t survive for a few hours outside of the home without the ability to check emails or update our status on a social network. Have we really become so helplessly de-skilled and plain old needy?

So you’re waiting for an urgent message from work – you could always ask them to phone you. Or send a text message. Or you could always take the reckless gamble that civilisation won’t collapse if it’s going to be two hours before you can respond to an email.

We were at the cinema this weekend and I did become THAT Mum, when I leaned over to ask the man in front of me to turn his phone off because it was distracting. He looked at me like I was asking him to chop off his kid’s head. Grrr.

Honestly? I am becoming increasingly impatient with people who spend their entire lives with their nose two inches from a mobile phone screen and act as though you’ve cut off their life-support if you ask them to turn it off. What is it you’re so terrified of missing? Course, I laughed like a drain when the ad below came on, just before the film started.

I’m a child of the 1980s. So I’m with Ferris Bueller when he reminds us: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  


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