Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cell phones kill!

I wish

Earlier this month, Reuters and other news services reported that a virus panic is rampant among Pakistani cell phone users. With the speed of an urban legend, shrill warnings about a lethal cell phone virus are sprinting from one cell user to the next throughout Pakistan. Can the rest of the world be far behind?

While cell phone viruses are real and will probably pose a genuine threat (or at least make a nuisance of themselves) in the future, the Pakistani virus is supposed to be dangerous to the user, not the phone. It will kill you!

Yes, I know. Hilarious, isn't it? This is how Kim Barker reported it in the Chicago Tribune:
The virus would not hurt the phone. Instead, in a scene out of a horror movie, it would kill the recipient. Immediately.

Plz ignore calls frm 0A9-888888 or with screen with dancing snake & changing colours its a deadly virus and in some regions of Pakistan death are being reported,” began one message.

Another said: “it's a virus to kill a person. Plz it's not a joke it's damn serious virous.”
As stupid as it may sound, people are nevertheless taking the “damn serious virous” seriously. Major newspapers and phone companies in Pakistan are strenuously denying the story, which thrives on a plethora of “friend of a friend” rumors, since it seems that everyone in Pakistan is now only three or four degrees of separation away from someone who died horribly at the hands of a cell phone text message.

The problem is especially acute in a place like Pakistan, which is ahead of the United States in the adoption of cell phone technology. (Although one wonders whether “ahead” is the right word in this context.) More from Kim Barker:
For Pakistanis who treat cell phones as a necessary appendage, this was serious. People talk on cell phones while watching a movie in the theater, while walking on a treadmill at the gym.
Perhaps Pakistanis aren't too far ahead of Americans in making cell phones a necessary appendage. My students use them constantly, grudgingly turning them off at the start of each class and immediately reactivating them the moment class is over. People chatter into them while driving their cars, dining in restaurants, and standing on street corners. Surely movie theaters, music halls, and opera houses cannot be far behind.

Can we get that user-fatal cell phone virus story going in this country, too, please?


Karlo Licudine said...

The story about the ruckus in Pakistan can be seen as a funny story which reflects on the status and the phone literacy of Pakistanis on these kind of things.

On more developed countries, prank messages like these are already a thing of the past. Still, there are some who still fall for such juvenile acts.

Nice post ^^

Gee, your a professor. *looks up in respect*

King Aardvark said...

Karlo, don't be too sure about that. There are a helluva lotta truly stupid people in North America who will believe this nonsense.

I'm immune to such things, not because of my balony detection kit, but simply because a) no one ever calls me except my wife and my mom, and b) I have no money for technology.

Anonymous said...

I agree that talking on the phone is rude where talking in general is rude (classes, theaters, etc), or dangerous (if you're focusing on the phone, you're not focusing on the road), but what could possibly be wrong with talking on the phone on the street? It's not like you can't have a conversation, even a loud one out there.

I don't know about restaurants, everyone seems to agree that it's rude, but as long as you keep your voice down and your topics appropriate, I can't really see why. I mean, the main activity at a restaurant is talking, the food is really just a cover (if you were only interested in food, you could just get it to go, fast food style. Few people like going alone to eat, because it's truly a social occasion).