Mobile Phone leads you by the nose?

In my earlier post titled, The Enhancer, dt. April7, 2017, I wrote about the mobile phone use enhanced capabilities of its users to a considerable extent. Continuing in the same vein, let me bring in the discussion the theory of technological determinism. According to the theory of technological determinism, human destiny is driven by an underlying logic associated with scientific laws and their manifestation in technology.  As such, technology is perceived as an external factor that transforms institutions, interactions, as well as individuals (Negroponte 1995). However, according to Eldridge (2007), Raymond Williams criticizes simplistic cause-effect determinism, and favours a modified notion of ‘determination’ that there exist variable possibilities and alternatives within the set of limits. 

Mobile telephony is an appropriate example of how individuals feel determinative pressures to conform to a ‘technological form of life’. For example, even an incoming call usually provokes a sense of expectation and urgency and one feels compelled to answer a ringing phone (De Souza e Silva 2007). My earlier post: Mobile Phone: attraction…distraction? dt. April 4, 2017 also gives several examples of how the presence of the mobile phone compels its users to act in ways that could be detrimental to their personal and social well-being. Additionally, the speaker that I heard last week, which I alluded to in my post, The Enhancer, shared 10 trends in technology that are envisioned to replace some of the important aspects of personal life and business. Read the article by Todd, D: Robots are coming to work. Is a guaranteed income far behind?  or Waugh, R: If your job is on this list, you could be replaced by a robot by 2020, to get a glimpse of the extent of the impact of technology on human life and business.

Furthermore, young people live in ways that presume the availability of mobile telephony. In fact, without it they feel that a part of “themselves” is missing. However, I believe that the relationship between technology and society is not necessarily one of external force, such as mobile phone, forging and transforming social life and cultural patterns. For example, Bell (2006) points to young mothers for whom mobile phones were not ‘umbilical cords’ and that they could do without them. Hence, Ito (2004) remarks: 

Though the mobile phone is an acclaimed piece of technology, nothing ‘inherent’ in the mobile handsets themselves is socially or culturally transformative. 

I would rather believe that technologies themselves are a result of social and cultural structures.

Bell, G. 2006. The Age of the Thumb: A Cultural reading of Mobile Technologies from Asia. Knowledge, Technology and Society. 19(2), pp41-57.

De Souza e Silva, A. 2007. Interfaces of Hybrid spaces IN: Kavoori, A. P. and Aceneaux, N. (eds.) The cellphone reader: essays in social transformation. New York: Peter Land Publising Inc

Eldridge, J. 2007. Beyond 2000: Remembering Raymond Williams. Fifth-Estate-Online – International Journal of Radical Mass Media Criticism [Online]. Comment. April 2007

Ito, M. 2004. Personal Portable Pedestrian: Lessons from Japanese Mobile Phone Use IN: Mobile Communication and Social Change, The 2004 International Conference on Mobile Communication, October 18-19, 2004.

Negroponte, N. 1995. Being Digital. London: Hodder and Stoughton

Todd, D. 2015. Robots are coming to work. Is a guaranteed income far behind? Vancouver Sun, Canada: September 6

Waugh, R. 2016. If your job is on this list, you could be replaced by a robot by 2020, Metro News, UK: March 28, 2016


The Enhancer

The world of technology took an astounding leap in 1876. It made real time interaction at a distance possible with the invention of the landline telephone (Katz and Aakhus 2002). However, the landline telephone was still connected to the telephone network by a wire. The 21st century changed that. It marked the widespread uptake of wireless technologies; prominent among them was the mobile phone. For example, in 2005, calls from mobile phones surpassed those made from landline phones in the US (New Politics Institute 2006) and in 2006 the number of wireless subscribers surpassed the number of fixed line subscribers in India (Roy and Pachava 2009). As Kalba (2008, p645) states: 

Mobile phones have become the dominant mode of communication, surpassing the landline count by as much as eight or nine to one. 

Their dominance is also seen in the familiarity with which people use them. Familiarity with mobile phone technology has reached a level where people do not notice its presence until it is absent (Katz and Aakhus 2002). So much has it proliferated, that the tunes and beeps of the mobile phone have become part of the background noise of daily life. Plant (2000) in her expansive study on mobile phone states that even birds such as the starlings were seen impersonating mobile phone tones and melodies. With such familiarity, mobile phones are now being used in surprising ways not thought of before even by their designers and creators (Bell 2006).

A speaker that I heard last week emphasized that mobile technology enhances human life. I would further say that it augments the personal capabilities of human beings even the ability to exert influence on the situation one is facing in daily life. For example, mobile phone users have the ability to bring together Smart mobs through text messages as seen on the streets of Kiev in 2004 to protest election fraud. Another example is of Greenpeace Argentina who collected 3000 signatures for a petition via text messaging. They also asked 350000 people in their mobile phone network list to call legislators to lobby for the first federal forest protection act in 2007.

In personal lives, one can even guess how the mobile phone has given many the ability to  start, break, maintain, shape and even terminate romantic relationships.


Bell, G. 2006. The Age of the Thumb: A Cultural reading of Mobile Technologies from Asia. Knowledge, Technology and Society. 19(2), pp41-57.

Kalba, K. 2008. The Adoption of Mobile Phones in Emerging Markets: Global Diffusion and the Rural Challenge. International Journal of Communication. 2 (2008), pp631-661.

Katz, J. E. and Aakhus, M. 2002. Introduction: framing the issues IN: Katz, J. E. and Aakhus, M. (eds.) Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance. Cambridge: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

New Politics Institute. 2006. Mobile Media in 21st Century Politics [Online].

Plant, S. 2002. On the mobile: the effects of mobile phones on social and individual life [Online].

Roy, H. and Pachava, H. B. Telecom Growth Trajectory in India. SSRN [Online]. Available from:

Mobile Phone: distraction…attraction?

One of the common complaints that mobile phone communication is stuck with is that it generates distraction. Cognitive distraction occurs when an individual’s focus is not directly on the task which requires primary and a larger load of attention, and his/her mind “wanders” in other activities, such as, sending and receiving texts or calls, listening to music, playing games, connecting to the internet, repeated glancing expectantly on the phone etc. Below are some ways in which people get distracted from their primary task because of various aspects of mobile phone communication.

1.       The presence of a mobile phone around us takes our attention to the larger social community who can be reached by texting, calling, or the internet.

2.       Mobile phone reduces the quality of social interaction. Often even when you are physically with a group of friends, people catch themselves engaged with the larger social community, than with the one in whose presence you physically are.

3.       Researchers have found that sending and receiving messages during class makes students less effective at tasks such as note taking or paying attention to a class lecture.

4.       It is common knowledge, even with the fear of punishment, that mobile phones cause drivers to shift their eyes and minds off the road which have resulted in loss of life and property.

5.       People have acknowledged, often to their embarrassment, that they physically bumped into another person or an object in public view, when they were distracted by talking or texting on their phone.

6.       Many workplaces restrict mobile phone use when employees are on work duty because sending/receiving personal text messages or getting immersed in mobile phone based activities distracts employees from their job tasks and takes away time that is allocated for performing work duties.

7.       Crossing the street is a complex task, involving judgements about distances, speed, and acceleration patterns of vehicles. Using the mobile phone, while crossing or walking down the streets, is a dangerous distraction particularly for pre-adolescent children. It puts pedestrians at greater risk for both accidents and crime.

Were you distracted from any task because mobile phone communication? If so, please share your experience. From which primary task you were distracted and what aspect of mobile phone communication distracted you? Don’t forget to add any suggestion you would want to make about this topic with the community.

Finally, here’s a video by Nicole Cleveland that says it in video:

No More Nomophobia

A conversation with one of my colleagues steered towards a discussion an addiction to mobile phone use. In fact, when I reflected on it later, I recalled that when I leave house for work, I check my pockets to ensure that I have carried my mobile phone. It is become a routine. If I have forgotten it, something feels missing. And when I realize that I have forgotten my mobile phone and I am far away to return to get it, I catch myself cursing me. I feel uncontactable (as if mobile phone is the only way to contact me), unconnected, incomplete, hampered, inconvenienced, in short, debilitated. This dependency on the mobile phone and the related anxiety without it is going unnoticed in people’s lives.

It is not just me. Nomophobia is on the rise. Nomophobia (No Mo-bile Phone Phobia) is a term that describes a phenomenon notices in people where they fear being without a mobile phone or without mobile phone contact. It is a type of psychological and physical dependency on the mobile phone. Numerous research studies are being carried out on this subject.

Source: Hubpages-The rise of Nomophobia

Do you think that you could be part of this statistic? I tried the following three tactics to start with, to detox myself of this phobia. It indeed helped. Now I feel I do not miss much if I do not have my mobile phone with me during these times. Not a bad beginning, I think. So here are my methods. You can try these or think of your own.

  1. Get a real alarm. Keep the mobile phone 5 feet away from your bed at night.
  2. Keep the mobile phone away when you are eating your meals.
  3. Set times when you will use your mobile phone.

Do send it your replies with ways that you think will be helpful for a detox from nomophobia.

Here’s a video that lends some insight:

Non-User to User…a sampling story!

My first phone, a Nokia 3310. A friend of mine offered it to me in 2004. From then on, I became a mobile phone user from a non-user. Are there people who still do not use mobile phones? I wonder. More on that some other time. But when I was a non-user of the mobile phone, I convinced myself that I did not need it and I could easily manage without it. It would merely be an unnecessary clutter on my desk and in my life. I did not want to be environment unfriendly or fall prey to consumerism by possessing one more gadget. Also, I was unfamiliar with this technology. Why should I invest every month in maintaining a new status symbol that I would not use regularly? These thoughts, at first, made me reluctant to accept the no-string-attached, gratuitous offer from my friend. On the other side, I was fascinated with the capabilities that books and newspaper articles attributed to the mobile phone, and the status that was attached to possessing it. Eventually, the lure of this new technology won. I ended up accepting this gift not aware that it had the potential of making me dependent on one of the most sought-after innovation by marketers, businesses, entrepreneurs, and lay folk as well. Little may my friend have envisaged, that that offering me that “sample” of a mobile phone would eventually transform me into a versatile mobile phone user who uses this device for talking, texting, blogging, tweeting, organizing, communicating, reminding, storing, driving business, research, teaching, relaxing and practically managing almost every need of my life.


Product sampling and free trials are back! These are tried and tested techniques that brands have used to introduce people to their products, services, concepts, and insights and to build brand affinity. But they are under-utilized. In a survey conducted by Young America in 2015, 53 percent of those surveyed said they often or always end up buying a product that they sampled. But, 60 percent said they did not receive any trial samples in the past year. For the complete research findings, read:

only CHANGE is permanent

I got my first personal mobile phone in the year 2004. This 133 gms (4.69 oz.) 22mm thick Nokia 3310 was released in the year 2000. Its features were messaging, clock, alarm, and some games. It did not have a browser, WLAN, GPS, Bluetooth, or a card slot. It could hold a record of only 8 dialed, 8 received, 8 missed calls. How I acquired this phone will be the subject of a different blog. But without doubt I was excited to display it. It was discontinued in 2005 but I was surprised to hear the rumor lately that Nokia launching this indestructible handset again.

Move forward to 2016. Between now and then I got hold of and abandoned various other phones. Today I have a Samsung galaxy S6. Released in 2015, it was 138 gms (4.87 oz.) with 6.8 mm thickness. Very different from my first possession, this gadget has a Nano SIM, 16M colors, touchscreen, 5.1 inches display, browser and more and more and more. . I’m not marketing for Samsung but compared to my first phone, this device was a sleeker piece of art promising a grand experience. How I got this piece is again another story. But Without doubt, I was thrilled to get it. This gadget and others of its caliber allude to the evolution that has occurred over this period in manufacturing, designing, businesses, marketing, and management among other things. Even behaviors and attitudes have either been modified, tweaked, or completely changed. Mobile phone evolution is another visible proof that technologies have either been replaced, modified, or even died.

pic By Anders – Own work, Public Domain,

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying: “the only thing that is constant is change”. To be in the forefront of business and management practices therefore, it is very crucial to recognize change, acknowledge change, embrace change, manage change, be a part of change.