Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mobile Ambivalence

I am a bit of a luddite when it comes to mobile telephony. Even My Lady of the Pixellated Smiles is quicker than me to use any new phone's features and I am a good generation younger than she is! It is embarrassing. I suspect that camera phones were invented with grandmothers in mind, as were picture email attachments.

This is a very loud world, but I can't help being part of the introverted minority for whom the written word is infinitely preferable to the spoken one. We are happiest when left in complete silence (silence!) with a good book and a person who knows that the art of conversation involves give, take, and thoughtful...silences. Libraries and bookstores are sacred places of worship. But, you know, it's the 21st century and I must live in it, amidst the extroverts. Besides, I only know two people who still writes letters by hand.

So this morning here I am surfing the intertubes and reading in blessed silence (silence!) when a totally surreal IT technology/Social Media moment comes my way. A friend had just got off the plane at Schiphol and was promptly greeted with a welcome message from Zantel. Being a savvy Tanzanian, he naturally has a simcard for every service provider but he only bothered to load up credit on his Tigo, Vodacom and Zain numbers so that he could roam at will. Because, you know, they are big companies that know their stuff, right? Right? Wrong. Said networks were useless in Amsterdam. Which led to him sending me an IM- from Amsterdam- to SMS his credit dealer- in Dar es Salaam- to send him credit on his Zantel line so he could use it in- Amsterdam.

Dude. Science is Magic.

In my day, when wild beasts still roamed the wilds of Mbezi freely and there was nothing but swamp and cattails in Msasani, you had to book a phonecall one week in advance with TTCL and then wait nervously to get connected to Nairobi or wherever so you could have a mangled conversation with someone struggling to comprehend you on the other side. Then TTCL would bill you an astronomical amount for that dodgy service because someone had been using your line illegally. A young girl might, under these circumstances, develop a fondness for letter-writing.

I have been preached at by the experts and the zealots, told about the power of mobile telephony to "transform Africa", et cetera ad nauseum. Yeah, I get it. I am even a massive fan of telephone banking services and all those little thingy-ma-bobs that make my life easier: what's on at the movies, what is the price of a goat at ving'ung'uti, how is the shilling faring against the dollar today. Jeez, I even ventured into the waters of a smartphone- me, who believes that handsets should be chunky rugged childproof bricks that do only three things: light your way home at night, call and text message. I suspect that even with all that power under the plastic keypad, the best feature of this phone will remain the text messaging function. God, I love it. It is silent.

Anyways, have a totally connected weekend. Just don't be that obnoxious ass yelling into your bluetooth headpiece in the middle of a nice quiet lobby. Shhh, for goodness sake!

No comments:

Post a Comment

No biting, spitting, trolling or ugly insults- only pretty ones allowed.

A little birdie told me...

Follow MikocheniReport on Twitter