HAVANA TIMES – Communication technology is of vital importance anywhere in the world right now. Mobile phones aren’t new though, they’ve been forming a part of our lives for years now.
In Cuba, a poor country with serious economic problems and shortages, a lot of effort has been made so that most people can have access to this service, although having a cellphone is still new for some people.
Even so, the people that do have one, use it excessively. It’s common to find people with their heads down on the street or at home, and it’s not because they are sad or grieving, but because they are looking at their cellphone.
Years ago, the saying about the human body and its components changed: Body, trunk and limbs; became: Body, trunk, limbs and plastic bag, referring to the fact that everyone left home with a plastic bag in case they found something they needed during the day. That said, it could be further amended to: Body, trunk, limbs, plastic bag and cellphone.
Every day, we see at least three different kinds of people when it comes to cellphone use:
- The real cellphone fan, wakes up with their cellphone in hand, goes to the bathroom, eats breakfast, lunch, their afternoon snack and dinner with it; from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, holding their cellphone the whole time, and if they aren’t then they aren’t OK, they feel like they are missing something, they don’t feel fulfilled.
- The cellphone show-off. This kind of person walks in the middle of the street, with their cellphone glued to their ear, speaking loudly so that everyone waiting at the bus stop or passing by can hear everything that they are saying. We never know if someone is really on the other side of the line or not, but that’s not important to this person, the most important thing is that they feel like people are looking at them and to draw attention to themselves.
- The bus boss. This is the person who takes out the artefact, I mean phone sorry, as soon as they get on the bus and speaking loudly, in a superior tone, begins to close all kinds of business deals: whatshisname, left me boxes of sneakers and backpacks, we have to shift them fast; they already brought me the load of hard drives, count them and check them all, discreetly, remember that they’re worth 50 CUC or more; when you sell everything, let me know, etc. Generally-speaking, we can guess that these items are stolen, even though they never explicitly say so. They pocket the cellphone when they get off the bus, everything’s been sorted.
Cellphones have been growing over time, and now the size of your cellphone determines your social status. I don’t believe that people in Cuba are buying very many right now in these times of crisis, although there is always one or two Cubans who ask a relative to send one, it doesn’t matter that the other person is breaking their back at three or four jobs abroad so that their beloved cellphone fan can walk proudly down 23rd street, showing off their device stuck to their ear, as if it were the size of a Selena radio back in the ‘80s and could be seen from the highest apartment at the Habana Libre.
I took my cellphone out my left pocket a minute ago, I called a childhood friend who I’d arranged to meet for a couple of beers and to talk about a range of things, but his cellphone was switched off. I called him again 20 minutes later, and it was still turned off. He called me back about an hour later and explained: “I turn off my phone every now and again to keep my peace of mind, do you think that’s bad?” To which I responded: “every person is a world in itself and every person with a cellphone is in another.” And I remembered with a smile one of the phrases I heard from one of the bus bosses I was talking about before: “successful people never switch off their cellphones.”