K1: Koo, how are you coping with this technological age? The smart phones, in particular, keep changing and becoming more complex! And so – inevitably – the secret services of governments everywhere want them to do all their work for them, by sitting back and tapping — into mobile phones! Apple versus the FBI on whether it is constitutional to intercept private communications; a similar row in the British House of Commons on a proposed law basically abolishing the remnants of what protection of electronic communications as the GCHQ hasn’t confiscated already; and now, guess what – the Ghana Government too wants to pass a bill that will UNCONSTITUTIONALLY empower it to listen in to the plans of the opposition parties! In election year! And it is presenting the bill as one that will make it illegal to STEAL postal packages or something! As if we didn’t have enough laws about theft in this country! (1)

K2 – But Koo, you are the world affairs nut – I thought the era of Big Brother ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989!

– Small Boy! You thought? You don’t know the ways of world governments, eh? Listen, George Orwell, who invented Big Brother, gave a list of British writers to the BBC, when he was working there, who he said were “Communist fellow travellers” whom the BBC should not allow to express their views on the air! Yet the British never stopped berating the Russians for practising thought control!3

– Hypocrisy is the name of the game, what?

Yep! This whole technology thing irritates me to death, They are inventing all these unnecessary applications or “apps” for smart phones, yet they can’t ensure that your battery stays alive during an important conversation! One of my phones is lying around, right now, unable to boot into its applications. Another is supposed to be on a “Pay-as-you-go” tariff, but if you don’t use all your credit within a certain period, it eats up the credit and won’t even allow you to listen to ordinary voice mail. I mean – the technology is beautiful, but what is it doing to our emotions with all that in-built frustration?

– Ei, Koo, you aren’t thinking of becoming a psychiatrist?

Me? It’s I who will be needing a psychiatrist if my phones keep flabbergasting me!

Hmm! What I am worried about is that these days, philosophy and technology have become like the product of an incestuous sexual relationship. What is bad in the one is seamlessly transferred to the other! I mean – Apple talking constitutional law to the US Government! With Google somewhere on the sidelines. And Bill Gates plumbing for thought control!

Yiee! Koo? Where from all this?

You want to know? It all came to me whilst I was reading a paper on a London bus one day.

London bus? I thought the only thing to worry about when you’re on one is how not to get so comfortable in it that you’d nod off and miss your stop?

That’s possible – oh don’t I know it? One day, after a very good lunch in a Turkish restaurant, I ended up in deep, deep Balham, instead of Clapham Common!

Hahahaha! Did you suffer from disorientation when you woke up?

You bet! For a moment, I thought I was still in Notting Hill! Then I recognised a shop, got down, crossed the road to the other side, got a bus going the other way, and retraced my steps back to Clapham.

And the incident made you become philosophical?

No. That was on a different journey. I was so affected that I had to coin a new word to describe what I was seeing. Two words, in fact.

Two new words at once?

Yes! One was telephile. You know – in the same way we call some people paedophiles, we have a class of people who are so addicted to the use of the telephone that they ought to be given a name. And I came up with telephile.

And the second word?

Well, it was going to be mobifile, that is: someone addicted to the use of mobile phones. Because, you see, hardly anyone uses ordinary land phones any longer, do they? Everything is mobile, mobile…. Mobile for e-mail; mobile for Youtube music; mobile to check train and bus times; mobile to check weather news; mobile to see how one’s shares are faring (if any!); mobile to tell your fridge, by ”Bluetooth”, to change its freezing temperature; mobile to …. to… play mind-numbing games with one’s fingers whilst one is on a bus, instead of … of reflecting on life as one used to do in the past!

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Everything is done by mobile now? So what?

We shall soon be eating mobile phones! They will be telling us what to do in order not to feel hungry, I tell you! But seriously, what occurred to me was that there are so many uses for the modern smart phone that people have become mobiphiles almost by design!! But I don’t quite like the word. I don’t think it conveys the idea of being an automaton clearly enough. That’s why I prefer telephile. Anyway, the mobile phone is also a telephone, so, until land-phones vanish altogether from the face of the earth (won’t be long now, will it?) we can include them when we talk of the instrument that is generically known as the telephone. Hence telephilia (the abstract act) and telephile (the person who carries out the said abstract act.) Perhaps telophilia and telophiliac will sound better? I’m working on refining the word!…..

Yieee, Koo, you will go mad oh! Anyway, when you have got it all done, you mustn’t forget to contact the Oxford English Dictionary people! I believe they reward people who coin new words?

Ho – do you think they read the Daily Guide? They probably think English grows only on trees re-sprouted by the newsprint consumed by the London Times and The New York Times!

Hmm! Telephilia or better still, telophilia, does sound more euphonious than mobiphilia, I must admit. Mobiphilia conjures images of a disease – something like haemophilia! But can’t telephilia be confused with addiction to TV?

I was thinking it might be confused with tilapia, fresh-peppered, onion-garnised and tomatoed!

Hahahahahaha! That’s very good, Koo. Very good!

I shall research the words and see what comes out of it.

But what made you want to coin the new word(s) in the first place?

As I said before, I was on a London bus. And I saw this woman. She was standing at t the bus stop, yakking into her phone. She was clutching the instrument firmly to her ear with one hand. At the same time, she was pushing a pram with a baby in it – with her other hand. She made towards the bus. As she approached the bus, I thought she would put away the phone, get the pram safely into the bus and then settle down, before she continued talking into the phone….


She went on talking as she climbed onto the bus! I was afraid she might slip. But ho, she was apparently adept at climbing onto buses with a pram, whilst simultaneously talking on the phone! For she deftly managed to get the pram on the bus with her free hand. The other still held the phone to her ear. She was still talking. She also somehow managed to rummage through her purse for her bus pass! Why hadn’t she taken the bus pass out when she was standing at the bust stop? The passengers behind her looked at her, uncomplaining but obviously irritated at her antics. But she didn’t blink but went on talking! She swapped her bus pass. Still talking. She walked past passengers who were standing in the bus. Still talking. She pushed the pram past passengers to the “pram station”. Still talking. She managed to secure the pram in the place reserved for it. With one hand. The other still held the mobile phone to her ear. She found a seat, leaned back – and continued talking.

Why couldn’t she ask the person to whom she was talking to excuse her for a second, whilst she secured the pram in the bus or something?

Ask me, Koo! I think she was probably under the impression that if she suspended the conversation, the other person would be swallowed up by the airwaves and she wouldn’t be able to talk to him/her voice ever again!

Sounds demented if you ask me, Mr Psychiatrist?

Who knows? That’s how the idea that the condition is a disease occurred to me! Come to think of it, I should probably amend it to telephomania! Or mobilomania?

Hahahahaha! Words, words, words!

Koo, it is no laughing matter. Once on board, the woman continued yakking all the way to her bus stop. … She didn’t stop talking as she was getting off the bus.

And whilst walking away after safely manoeuvring her way off the bus, she was still on the phone! My worry, Koo, as I watched her , was this: How much time would such a woman be able to devote to the needs of the poor baby she had brought into the world through no fault of the baby’s own? Would the baby survive without contracting attention deficit disorder or something worse? Eh, Koo?

Lord have mercy on little babies born unto inattentive mothers, right?


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