Friday, February 27, 2009

Disruptive cell phones

The cell phone is everywhere these days. I cannot imagine life without a cell phone. I often wonder how we managed without them for so long!

Like everything, however, the cell phone has its own negatives. The biggest problem is the lack of solitude. You are always 'reachable'. I often wish that I could, for a while at least, be without a cell phone, not contactable by the rest of the world!

Cell phones can have a very disruptive presence. You are in the middle of a meeting. The discussion is very serious. Everyone is concentrating on the subject being discussed. Suddenly, someone's phone rings! Everyone's focus is lost. Everyone is thrown 'out of the flow'. To get back into the 'flow' is extremely difficult.

Most people will answer most calls irrespective of where they are and what they are doing. Why is this so? Because it is considered extremely rude to decline a call. It is rejection in some ways! Unfair, if you will. But true. Unless the calling party is sensible enough to realize. How many such sensible people exist?

One place where the use of cell phones needs to be really thought about is in the medical field. So many times, I was with a doctor discussing something very important and suddenly the doctor would receive a call on his cell phone. The entire thread of discussion is lost.

A doctor's work is very intellectual. Life-changing decisions are taken not by referring to books and articles on the internet alone. There is a very complex process of decision-making. This involves the usage of a large body of education, experience and gut-feel. It is an entirely sub-conscious process. It is not put on paper and theoretically proved. This kind of process can be totally spoilt by the ring of a cell phone.

I was shocked a few years back when I heard the cell phone of the surgeon operating on me ring while I was on the operating table. The surgeon actually answered the call. He discussed something for a good 5 minutes and then got back to operating on me!

Need I say more?

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