Siba K. Gogoi
(The writer is a senior journalist.
He can be reached at [email protected])
Mobile phone, without doubt, has given incredible mobility to the life of the modern man. Cell phone has made gathering and sharing of information and knowledge as easy as one can imagine in a digital world. It has indeed become an all-purpose device without which netizens across the world cannot even think of passing a day. No one knows better than Martin Copper how it felt making the first mobile telephone call on 3 April 1973, the day that marked the beginning of the mobile telephony revolution. Thanks to the ever-changing mobile technology, the easy availability of budget-to-state-of-the-art smartphones in both domestic and international markets has revolutionized the way humans communicate with each other sharing both public and private data in a fast-paced world. Today the world has 3.5 billion smartphone users that account for 45.12 per cent of the global population. If the figure of feature phone users is taken into account, the total number of mobile phone users in the world stands at 4.78 billion, which makes up 61.62 per cent of the world’s population. While China tops the list of countries with most mobile phone users, with over 8.51 millions, India is placed second with 3.46 millions. This shows how mobile phone has of late acted as a catalyst driving information technology that has become such an integral part of our day-to-day life. While the bulk of the mobile phone owners use the handheld device for entertainment and data search on the Internet, a considerable segment of the netizens use it to stay connected with the social media, a phenomenon that is only growing by the day. Mobile phone is certainly a gift science and technology has presented man with, but it has its own share of pitfalls that can catch any user off guard. With the mobile in hand, more often than not, we unwittingly step into a world where we tend to forget where we are, what we are doing, or where we are going. Leave aside the towns and cities in the State, rural areas are not immune to the ill effects of the mobile invasion. Wherever we look, in almost every street of the town or village corner, we always find people keeping themselves absurdly busy with their mobiles. All this explains why, in no time, so many lives are snuffed out, why so many people get injured in accidents that should have been avoidable but for the mobile. No one can deny the importance of the social media to the sociopolitical life of the people. However, mobile users having close association with the social media need to exercise discretion when posting comments, data, or information, especially those of sensitive nature. The social media provides the cell phone owners with boundless freedom to share anything they want to. A lot of issues are discussed and debated, albeit informally, on an uncensored social media, which means that there is every possibility of a topic or exchange getting degraded to hate-mongering and slandering. Character assassination, gossiping, coercion, psychological bulldozing, and threatening someone on the social media have become the order of the day. A mobile can be easily misused by cyber criminals and militants to spread fear and violence in a society. Any political campaign, including electioneering, can be given instant leverage through the use of mobile phones; having said that, political parties hardly refrain from making expeditious use of mobile phones for circulating misinformation that suits their propaganda. The worst part is, if a smartphone owner does not use the device sensibly, they always run the risk of invasion of their privacy. Theft of vital personal information may not only damage the phone user’s image but also make him or her suffer heavy financial losses. It is understandable why mobile phone users are still smarting from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. The absence of strong privacy law in our country can only make matters worse. What is more disturbing is that mobile mania has even gripped kids in almost every home. Toys and dolls are no longer playthings for a child today; they have been easily supplanted by mobile gaming and YouTubing. Parents happily allow their children to use cell phone to make sure they remain at least engaged rather than get naughty. This does them more harm than good because mobile addiction not just distracts the child from school textbooks but also takes a toll on its mental and physical health. The real danger arrives when cell phone with Internet connection exposes the child to a world that can be far damaging even to an adult. Internet-based mobile overkill may subject users of the device to delusions of grandeur because frequent encounters with the colossal volume of data available on the Net bring them under the impression that they have become smarter or achieved more knowledge, no matter how superficial it is, than before. There’s no denying that mobile phone consumes much of our valuable time that could have been otherwise used for some productive work. When everything has been considered, it’s all about how and for what purpose we use the mobile phone; and it is advisable to use the device judiciously.