James Clarke Masthead
March 2 2012 at 11:25

‘Nomophobia – the fear of being out of cellphone contact – is on the rise. A recent survey discovered 66 percent of people (in the UK) are terrified of being without their phone.” – The Star

Unless this is a very new word, “nomophobia” does not exist.

Monophobia does. It means the fear of being alone and, I suppose, being in a Checkers queue or having drifted out of sight of land and finding you have left your phone at home amounts to the same thing.

To many people, the cellphone – especially youngsters – is now a part of themselves. They have to be in touch with everybody all the time.

I imagine monophobia is quite well established in SA, too.

I recall one wet Christmas at Trafalgar Beach when with a group of 14 family members and friends who were in a noisy after-breakfast debate to discuss what to do with themselves.

Phones were constantly chirping, buzzing, playing music and at least half the assembly were speaking – but not to each other, they were phoning or essemessing. One girl was texting her boyfriend who was in the same room.

Increasing numbers of people walking in the mall are microwaving their brains as they speak into their cellphones.

More and more I see people, apparently deranged, walking along the pavement talking loudly apparently to themselves but, in fact, into some sort of phone hidden about their person.

In fact one can, these days, openly talk to oneself under almost any circumstance and people will assume you are on the phone, never suspecting you are stark raving mad.

I was in London some time back where everybody appears to be on the phone whether on a bus, train or just walking.

I saw a middle-aged pedestrian pleading loudly as he stopped on the pavement: “Mama! Mama! I am sorry. You MUST understand. Mama PLEASE! Mama!”

In a half-filled train carriage a young woman seated some rows away was speaking to a boyfriend on her cellphone and the entire carriage could hear every word.

It was not a very interesting conversation, but what fascinated me was that she was totally unconcerned that everybody could hear.

Then one late afternoon on the crowded Underground a smartly dressed City gent sitting opposite, his head thrown back and with no visible phone, went on and on to an associate about a proposition in a voice that could be heard by dozens of passengers.

It occurred to me how I could have enlivened train journeys by conducting spurious cellphone conversations…

“Hello, Cynthia.

“Put me through to the prime minister, please… Ah, Prime Minister – look here, that offer last night of a cabinet post…

“I have thought it over, but what with trying to bring China to heel on the commercial front and with the EU crisis, I don’t think it would be in the country’s interest if I were to accept your proposition… No, no, no – David! Just listen to me…”



“Hello, my darling. Just tell me – is Charles within earshot? No? Splendid. About last night? Yes, it was fun. Philip? Yes, he definitely saw us… The Old Girl? Well, when I saw her this morning walking the corgis she gave me a funny look.”

Or one could be back home in a check-out queue…

“Hey Gary! How are you then, man? The Proteas are doing well, hey? You must be proud. You left a message for me to ring you… New Zealand!

“You want me to go to New Zealand?  Leaving tonight? Replace Smith?

“Sorry, boet, I’m in training for the Tour de France in July.”

Contact Stoep: E-mail: jcl@onwe.co.za Website: www.jamesclarke.co.za

Blog: http://stoeptalk.wordpress.com



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