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Mobcasting menace



SENTHIL NATHAN S

HAVE YOU ever heard of mobcasting? Puzzled? Maybe? Some distant cousin of plain vanilla broadcasting? Or some new technological innovation like podcasting (which, for the technologically uninitiated, is a way of publishing sound files on the Internet so that they can be downloaded automatically to a subscribed user's portable music player)? Mobcasting is a bit of all this and something more. And take my word that we have all been consumers of mobcasting - willing or otherwise (as is quite often the case).

Caught unawares

Mobcasting demystified of the jargon is short for mobile broadcasting or, in laymanese, is the way people using mobile phones broadcast their end of the conversation to the (unfortunate) unwitting and unsuspecting others who happen to be near them during their mobile phone conversation. This is particularly acute when the setting happens to be public transport such as train/bus or crowded places where the ambient noise in the environ is significantly high. Now you can see that most, if not all, of us have been victims of this mobcasting muddle where we are often caught unawares and ambushed.Many a benefit is attributed to the miniature gadget that adorns every other person's palm these days, which is supposed to bring people closer by bridging barriers of time and space. But, as with every other gift from the world of science, there remains a darker side which is often overlooked until it proliferates to such a proportion that it threatens to cast a dark shadow to cloud out its shiny side. But why blame science for what is essentially a human penchant to digress into a cycle of abusing (rather than use) stuff that the scientific world regularly churns out to enhance the quality of life? After initially abusing things out of ignorance, we tend to grow so fond of such abuse that whatever their utility soon becomes minuscule vis-à-vis the ever-increasing nuisance factor that they mutate into. What I call as mobcasting falls into this very category.This is a mess that is mushrooming all round us. I am sure anyone of us could narrate umpteen unhappy experiences that we are put to bear quite regularly where these mobcasters invade the privacy of hapless bystanders around them and dump loads of unwanted and quite unconnected conversation on them. The mobcasters try to beat the ambient noise in the environ by bellowing all through their conversation at the top of their voices. In so doing, they seem quite indifferent to sharing their life - and often the most intimate, ugly and untruthful parts of it - in the public domain. This mobcasting, while at one level contributes to the ever-burgeoning noise pollution in our metros, can also pose a threat to the mobcasters themselves, when they put sensitive information about themselves or others in the public domain. Miscreants who can be part of the mobcaster's milieu may make use of this to manufacture a windfall for themselves. All of us are quite used to the assault on our auditory faculties by the odd loudspeaker during festivals or political campaigns. However, a Supreme Court order restraining their use, howsoever inadequately implemented, came to our rescue from this menace. But there seems to be no end to this growing mess of mobcasting.

Endangered species

There remains an endangered species called mobile phone "users" and (not abusers like mobcasters) who are able to handle their conversations without troubling others around them. They are aware of the fact that most of the modern mobile instruments are smart enough to filter out the ambient noise and accentuate the clear reception of voice part of the conversation. Otherwise, they simply postpone the conversation to a later period or use messaging to get over the hurdles posed by the non-negotiable noisy environment. But mobcasters, mainly due to their ignorance, end up in actually contributing to the very ambient noise which they so keenly endeavour to escape.There is an urgent need for creating greater awareness, especially given the fact that there is going to be a manifold increase in the usage of mobile phones as evident from the current trend. The effort needs to be an inclusive one and must rope in all stakeholders such as the government, the phone companies, the NGOs and society at large to ensure its success. Till such time, we would have to continue to wade through the murky waters of mobcasters.