Out of line

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am


I am a member of a tiny minority of Hong Kong people who do not have, have never had and do not wish to have a mobile phone.

So my heart sank when I read that some Cathay Pacific passengers can now 'choose to receive a boarding pass directly on their mobile devices via e-mail or SMS text message'.

I assume I'm not alone in spotting the thin end of the wedge? When was the last time you were issued with a printed flight ticket? Exactly.

Soon it will be no easier to function here without a mobile communications device than without an identity card and that, I reckon, adds up to an infringement of liberty.

I will leave aside the reasonable supposition - endorsed by the World Health Organisation - that mobile phones and their base stations represent a risk to human health. I simply don't like the effect they have on people's manners.

If you spend much of your lunch hour ignoring those sitting with you to field calls and text messages from absent third parties, what kind of message do you think that sends?

When you board the Airport Express at Chek Lap Kok and wish to let your nearest and dearest know you have landed, must you do it at a volume that makes everybody else in the carriage a party to the news?

Why, when asked to turn their mobile phone 'off' in a theatre or concert hall, do people instead set it to 'vibrate', and in mid-show disrupt the performance by rushing for the exit to take the call?

We now prize gadgetry over courtesy. Most of these archetypal offenders are not naturally rude. The technology has made them so.

When I protest that I do not want a mobile phone, I am told I could carry one and leave it switched off. You might as well tell a man who doesn't wish to drive that he should buy a car.

I have a landline with a voicemail service which admirably performs all of the functions associated with a switched-off mobile. Except for one: I can't leave it in the back of a taxi.