COMMUNICATION: The Modern Pied Piper
Cellular companies are the modern Pied Piper. Our youth chase them blindly, dancing all night to the tunes of incoming calls or the beeps of the text messages, writes Yasmin Elahi
Who hasn’t read the fascinating story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin who played a musical pipe, luring hundreds of children to follow him out of town into a cave, never to be seen again?
The story holds true to this day, where the Pied Piper of Hamelin has been replaced by slogans floated by cellular companies of our age.Sab keh do, Tum hi to ho, baaton baaton mein, Feel free are some of the slogans adopted by these companies. The way consumers are attracted to them, especially young people, paints more or less the same picture and the use (read misuse) of the cell phone is becoming more and more common by the day.
With these companies offering new incentives and bargains with every passing minute to capture the market, the tele-density of mobile phones has reached 55.60 in the country (Pakistan Telecom Authority report) which means that more than half of our population has access to mobile phones with over 89 million subscribers. In the 2007-08 fiscal year alone, cellular phone companies added 22.36 million subscribers to their networks amid cutthroat competition.
In times like these, when a fulltime homemaker gets painfully exhausted by the end of the day with endless chores and responsibilities around the house, the working woman is too busy juggling her time between her home, family and social commitments to use her cell phone and the man of the house after being stuck in a mad traffic jam on his way back from work, prefers to be called a couch potato as he flips lazily the channels on TV, the young end up falling prey to these cellular companies. They cater to and target our only hope for a better future, and the rest is a Pied Piper tale, where text messaging and calling each other endlessly on the mobile phone without any rhyme or reason is relative to walking into the cave.
In their competition to win over the market, the mobile servers are cutting their rates to outplay each other.packages like these are common, “Five hundred messages for Rs50!”, “Unlimited messages for a month for a [paltry] Rs80!”, “Free extra time in lieu of the air time used!”, and the most outrageous: “Free calls and text messages from midnight to six in the morning!”
The cellular companies’ television commercials reflect the kind of customers they are targeting. Take the dancing damsel in a flowing ghaghra hopping about in the fields, for example, or the college students laughing and joking in the cafeteria behaving as if studies were the last thing on their minds, or the glamorised anorexic young models endorsing mobile phones, being idealised by young girls of today. Most sane people will seldom find these commercials realistic or even sensible.
It is irresponsibility on the part of parents who think they only have a role to play as long as their children are going to school and not beyond. It is during youth that we happen to be the most vulnerable and it is during youth that most parents these days give children more freedom than they can handle. This is how they get carried away.
Wasting time sending unnecessary text messages or calling each other keeps young people awake till the wee hours of the night, and then they are expected to be on time for their classes and perform well at their studies. The boy meet girl has become something of the past; the modern way for teenagers to flirt is boy text- messages girl or the other way round.
Cell phones are an incredibly ingenious invention if put to good use, for they have broken all barriers of communication. It is the abuse of the device, triggered by the greedy policies of cellular companies and the recklessness of parents and teachers, which is the trouble. In this day and age of insecurity and lack of law and order, parents feel more at ease when their youngsters carry a cell phone with them. But in an attempt to outclass each other, cellular companies are turning this device into a big nuisance and their dirty marketing strategies are playing with the very future of our youth.