My Technology: Peter Curran - It gives me a real buzz

Peter Curran explains why he prefers a pager to a mobile telephone
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The Independent Culture
THERE WAS one defining event which persuaded me of the benefits of a pager. I was supposed to be doing some filming down a mine somewhere in Cumbria and had used my mobile phone to call someone to get the time and venue for the shoot. I had repeated it back to the person. Unfortunately, on the day, I couldn't find anyone else at this site. The reception had been so terrible on the mobile phone that I'd taken down the wrong location, and actually gone to a different county.

The price I have paid for using a mobile phone is an increased admiration for retro-communication technology. The humiliation. The phone rings and everyone turns round and sneers, even if they are holding a mobile phone themselves. I just hope that Britain, as usual, will follow America and adopt a mobile phone etiquette. In America, loads of people are ditching their mobile phones because they are anti-social, and returning to pagers.

You can send quite detailed messages these days and also respond to calls when you like. There is no more shouting at a mobile phone as though it is a tin can attached to another by a length of string. It appears impossible to get your head round the fact that you are not actually having a conversation with someone in the room, or sitting opposite you on the train. It's so distracting for everyone else. And makes the person on the phone self- conscious.

And so they should be; everyone is ear-wigging, though they might appear to be reading their newspaper or examining an imaginary piece of fluff. The result is overacting by the mobile phone user, who forces themself to be this intelligent, coherent person. There is no way that you'll let anyone think you don't have a life; so you'll arrange some spurious meeting point, which you have to rush to, right now.

The most stunning message I have received on my pager was "It's started", when my wife was expecting our first baby. It was so funny; I had actually been getting ghost vibrations off this pager all day. I know that with a pager there is the operator between you and the other person, but it allows both people to get on with stuff.

Also, there is a perky side to the pager: the vibrations. It can make you jump a little, as though you have been groped. It goes off when someone pages you, and then in a five second buzz, which repeats every 30 seconds. It's usually all over within 45 seconds.

Peter Curran is presenter of `Culture Fix', the arts section of BBC Knowledge, BBC's latest digital channel.

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