Why phones are the new fire

Because my Blackberry can’t take pix to save itself,
here’s what The Age saw…

In the last century, it used to be said that television was the new fire – in that we all crowd around it to stare into its depths, mesmerised by the flickering light. Let me suggest that for this century, the new fire is the mobile phone.

I came to this realisation via two separate events – the first was while sludging through the mire of technicality associated with downloading tv programs onto your mobile, a genius invention that lets you further screw your eyesight on the tram to work, watching Two and a Half Men, because you haven’t got enough of Charlie Sheen, even though, anywhere in the world, at any given moment, some lazy network is playing a three-hour back-to-back marathon of hackneyed repeats.

The second time I realised that mobiles are the new fire is at a U2 concert last week. Bono and the boys were in fine form – before the concert, Amnesty was taking petitions through the crowd, collecting signatures for more public toilets in Nairobi (althoug I suggest such unmonitored spaces are ripe picking grounds for Nairobi’s thriving mugging scene, but then I stayed in hotels there, with toilets aplenty). Then, during the concert, Bono made a reference to the newly released Burmese leader, Aung Sang Suu Ky and the world AIDS epidemic.

To capture the moment and our hearts, he asked the 60,000-strong crowd for a minute’s silence and to raise our mobiles on high. I’m tellin’ ya: once, at concerts, it used to be candles, then cigarette lighters. Now phones.

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad, and occasionally I chat on radio, too, from Essentials Magazine to 3AW or the Irish Times.

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