Dispensing Irrelevance

As somebody who refuses to carry a mobile phone, I found myself nodding in agreement with this passage from Simon Raven’s memoir Boys Will Be Boys. He was writing half a century ago, in 1963, about what we now call old-fashioned “landlines”, but how right – and prescient – he was:

Cheap and easy systems of communication simply promote cheapness in what is communicated. If people have to pay 5/- for a telegram or take the trouble to write and post a letter, they think twice before they bother you at all. If they have a telephone, however, even the most trivial information takes on urgency. The telephone dispenses irrelevance like a tap which won’t turn off; it is also a dangerous instrument of interference and even persecution; but like most other so-called amenities of modern life, the telephone is essential for dealing with complexities which the telephone itself has caused, and it is quick to assert its tyranny at the expense of those who, like myself, would ignore it.

2 thoughts on “Dispensing Irrelevance

  1. The mobile phone is superior to both the letter and the land line because it tells you who is calling and you have the pleasure of ignoring them. Only ever answer numbers identified in the phone if you want to talk to them. A mobile will also go round the U bend with a strong flush. Try it. Very cathartic….

  2. “The Happy Breed. Of a lost race: ‘… they could not make a piece of glass, and their crockery is rather primitive … They know nothing about steam, electricity, or gunpowder, and, mercifully for themselves, nothing about printing or the penny post. Thus they are spared many evils …’ (H.R. Haggard, Allan Quatermain, 1887) [BA] If they didn’t spend their days reading Facebook via iPhone, this would be utopia.”

    [Quoted from the latestAnsible. ]

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