The dysfunctional device
In 2006, a spokesperson for the National Culture Commission (NCC) claimed Thailand's cultural values were being warped by the fact half the population were psychologically 'dependent' on mobile phones.
Explaining further, she said there were six tell-tale signs of mobile phone 'addiction.' First on her list was becoming a slave to phone fashion, always seeking the latest models which are regarded as a form of status symbol. Second, descending into poverty by spending their money on the purchase of new phones. Third, is impatience and irritability caused by users becoming accustomed to instant connections and orders. As a result, addicts become irritated over trivial events in their lives. Fourth, some callers ignore social etiquette, ringing others at all times of the day or night. Fifth, is a reduction in social contacts, calling people instead of visiting them or going out with them. Sixth, this was described as 'insincerity', a result of the nature of phone conversations, which are not face-to-face dealings. Users are prone to fawning language or complete lies to convince the other party they care about something when they really don't.
Does any, or all, of the above sound remotely like the average wallet-emptier of Fun Town? Especially number four. As a single man I lost count of the number of times I would be called at around 3:00am by some previously-enjoyed companion who claimed she missed me terribly and wanted to spend the remaining hours of darkness in the shelter of my bed. Once I used the magic words, "I don't have any money," it was amazing how the damsel would find a reason to avoid coming around. If a phone call came in after 4:00am I knew I was probably the fourth, fifth or sixth choice on her list of prospective after-hours live ATMs.
The mobile phone has made the Pattaya bargirl's bush telegraph the fastest communication device known to humankind. You are walking down Soi Petting Zoo (known officially as Soi 6, colloquially as Soi Yodsak, disparagingly as Soi La Mok [disgusting]) and, as you pass the Lick My Lower Lips Bar, you espy a damsel of delectability and she gives you that 'come hither' look. Either that or she's just had a brief attack of gallstones. Precisely .0476 seconds later your mobile phone shrieks, you look at the incoming number and turn a shade of white only witnessed in an Antarctic blizzard as you recognise it as that of your Thai female partner -be she wife, long-time live-in girlfriend, or last night's bar fine. You answer, and her first words are something like, "Why you look lady Lik My Loner Lib Bar? You like she too mutt ah?"
Yet the major concern over the mobile phone came in 2008 when an Australian neurosurgeon claimed the world's heavy reliance on mobile phones could be a greater threat to human health than smoking or even asbestos. Considering smoking and asbestos remain common in Thailand, maybe this could be the place to test the veracity of the claim.
Apparently the neurosurgeon, Vini Khurana, said using mobile phones for more than 10 years could more than double the risk of brain cancer. Admittedly, he said his findings were preliminary and it needed a government study extending for more than a decade to determine the effect of invisible electromagnetic radiation emitted by handsets. He said there were three billion people using mobile phones worldwide, which is half the population of the planet. Of course, in Pattaya mobile phone usage is at 99.99999 percent. Even the poorest garbage collector seems to have one.
Dr Khurana said mobile phone radiation could heat the side of the head or thermoelectrically interact with the brain and eventually cause a tumour to develop. Naturally, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association rejected the conclusions. They said handsets were designed, built and tested to comply with strict guidelines. Dr Khurana stated it took up to 20 years for tumours to develop and suggested we would start seeing the effects of heavy mobile usage after 2008, approximately two decades after mobiles first became common. He claimed,"most of the worrisome data has been surfacing [since 2006]."
Given the amount of usage of mobile phones by the working girls and boys of Pattaya, who spend approximately 33 percent of their time on their backs, either sleeping or engaging in monetarily rewarding activities, 33 percent eating and 48 percent on the mobile talking to friends and pre-loved acquaintances. Mathematically this adds up to an impossible 111 percent, but the extra 11 percent occurs because of the overlap while the girls and boys are eating and talking at the same time.
It gets worse. Also in 2008 a doctor writing in a leading US psychiatric journal suggested people who send large numbers of text messages and emails may have a mental disorder. If any of this is remotely true then we expats may well be living in a city full of mentally defective locals who are just a "love you long time" email, text or mobile phone call away from having a brain implosion. As Maxwell Smart used to say in the TV series Get Smart, "And loving it."
Arst Ed's Note:
I heard (on Capital radio) that a recent survey of 20,000 Bangkokians revealed that 80% of them would answer their mobile while having sex !!
Now I don't know what the significance of that is, but I would be pretty upset if 'my lady' started to have a mobile phone conversation with someone when I was in my nuptials.
Researchers have found "highly significant" evidence for damages to brain cells in rats exposed for 2 hrs to microwaves from mobile phones; and these damages were still seen 50 days after the exposure.
One quarter of the world's population is now exposing themselves to microwaves from hand-held mobile phones. The research team in Lundt University, Sweden, led by Leif Salford, referred to this as "the largest human biologic experiment ever". They point out that soon, microwaves will be emitted by an abundance of other appliances in the 'cordless' office and in the home.
Most researchers have concentrated on the question of whether radiofrequency electromagnetic fields can induce or promote cancer, but the evidence appears conflicting.