By the ringing of their mobile phones, people are switched
on and off. As well as their mood, their mode is changed;
from private to business, from intimate to distant, with the
topic their topos is shifted. Merely their body remains
within the proximate geographical environment; unable to communicate
with it as their attention is drawn to the distant voice in
their ear, they will be foreigners in the place considered
home just a second ago. The ringing of their walkie-talkies
is like a call to arms.
Not accidentally a significant part of the messages communicated
by those devices is nothing but instructions: coordination,
meeting points, orders of lacking supplies from party rearguards.
Apart from that, there is a certain priority favoring the caller,
one can only circumvent by additional efforts (pushing extra
buttons etc.). To continue your contact in the (former) real
world is not the default operation. Every call on the mobile
is a call from home--from your new home.
As this widespread form of human remote control becomes clear,
the relevance of virtuality can no longer be denied. Mobile
phones let the public sphere disappear in an unknown way. This
time it is not taken charge of by commercial signs but by private
signalsnot congested by corporate advertisement messages
but emptied of face-to-face chats. Public places and parks are
not a reservoir for gratis dialogues any longer, as they become
a graveyard for zombies whose souls are having cheap calls.
Dark cellar bars are the last place where you can insult people
with the risk of a slap-- not because of any sub-cultural phone
resistance, but because the connections are so bad.
Mobile homes: anyone who has ever been visiting a trailer park
where broken tin huts are rooting knows that these cars never
subscribed to their given term. The possibility of movement
integrated in their being called mobile was soon broken down,
as was the drive belt of their engine. A museum of past ideas
With modern phones, the feeling of loneliness became portable
and ubiquitous; so did home. You don't need walls and a roof
to feel at home--you need someone who calls you while you're
waiting for the bus. Feeling near to your friends, wherever
they might be geographically, you begin to show the most intimate
gestures in public. You don't need an Immobilie, or Möbel, but
you may need a comfortable pocket for your phone.
Home is where you lay your mobile down.
After all, that's not a bad thing. Real life dialogue partners
will sooner or later get used to being just another knot in
the extending personal network. As long as you don't have sex
with them there should be no reason why their bodily presence
enjoys priority. Some time they will learn not to wait till
you finished your phone call and they will know that it is not
meant to be disrespectful if you interrupt your talk with them.
Society will develop new ethics of communication; allowing somebody
to finish his sentence (just another rhetorical measure established
by the honorable masters of discourse) may not be a part of
it anymore. You'll switch your communication partners like TV
stations--and if you're lucky, you'll remember the best ones.
Copyright © 2001 Buster Truman. All Rights
Buster Truman is a 28 year-old student
of philosophy and media design, currently living in Berlin,