Monday, 23 August 2010

Homo iphonius?

A chance observation this weekend made us ponder as scientists the fact that we may be watching the emergence of a new variant of Homo sapiens. The observation was this.

We went to our local pathology museum, otherwise known as the supermarket, and witnessed a women pull into the space in her car next to us with a phone attached to her ear. She then proceeded to get a trolley and walking in front of us down every isle in the mammoth Fortnum’s and Mason superstore in Northernshire that all Northern Docs do shop at and never once did she remove the phone from her ear. Or stop talking.

Only when she arrived at the bespoke check out did she say “Wait a minute I will ring you back” and put the phone away. She unloaded her trolley and paid for her goods and then restarted the phone conversation again as she unloaded her shopping into the back of a Chelsea tractor so beloved of urban Northernites particularly of the female persuasion for their 4X4 abilities are so useful for getting out of puddles at the local supermarket’s flat and level tarmac car park.

Upon mounting her trusty steed the phone remained attached to her ear throughout as she drove away towards the motorway.

A discussion at the Café Michelle revealed that others had noticed a possible emergence of a new sub species of Homo sapiens.

It started with Homo whitevan homunculus which is the sub spieces where all men driving white vans have a limb increasingly adapted to holding a little electronic device permanently to their ear. This limb used to be a functional one but has become increasingly vestigial as it evolves to its new purpose of permanent aural placement of electronic devices at the expense of any useful work being done by the affected limb.

In surgeries we have noticed that now instead of people sitting waiting and ignoring each other by not talking to each other they now sit and stare at little electronic boxes instead.

When they are called in they frequently walk into the consulting room staring into these devices which is always a bit of fun if you open a door thinking someone has not heard you call them in and place a fist in their way.

The look of surprise is priceless as they walk through the magically opened door and almost hit you and your extended fist. A measure of how ill they are or what is most important in their life?

This new species also has a herd activity in that not only do the children walk into surgery and sit down looking at their phones but their parents do as well. Perhaps the experience of an older generation means they realize that going to the doctor involves an old art of communication that predates texting and email and you then get the following conversation:

“Chantelle switch that chuffing phone off and talk to the doctor.”

“Mam I can’t I am on facebook you tell him . . .”

Walking into our surgery buildings and in public places is becoming more hazardous and even driving is dangerous as the other day a woman on her phone walked out onto a pelican crossing when the lights were green texting completely oblivious to the road and the approaching vehicles. Only the screeching of brakes and the sound of several horns alerted her to life outside of her phone.

Now in the UK there is a phrase “it is good to talk” which derives from a series of adverts for a UK telecoms company in the 1990s but it would appear that some of the human species is losing the use of limb for anything else other than using a small electronic device and also slowly losing the ability to talk to people as a result.

Is this relationship between the limb and the phone a parasitic one or a symbiotic one? Only time will tell.

Mean time the Northern Doc law of mobiles still applies which states that the mobile always rings within 2 minutes of the patient sitting down and the caller always asks:

“What has the doctor said?”

“I will ring you back I am just with them now”.

Praise be to the Party for telling us it is good to talk. Talking to doctors is free but talking on a phone costs. No wonder the phone always comes first.


Anonymous said...

Missing from your taxonomy is that other new variant: homo doctoris iphonius.

The 'professional' NHS doctor who spends patient consultation time taking phone calls to organise his evening's golf practice.

NHS doctors get paid to talk to patients.

NHS doctors get paid even when they spend consultation time talking on their iphones to persons other than patients.

Go figure.

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