I had this column in mind for a while already, without really being able to put the words in the right order. And it was finally yesterday, the last day of vacation, that I was touched by divine grace.
My smartphone: my breakfast?
Have you noticed that most of the people who call keep it in “rusk” mode as my friend Teli would say? I’m not saying that it didn’t occur to me to put jam on the annoying people’s phones, unfortunately, I never have it on hand when I need it.
In short, no one seems to want to put the sacrosanct device to their ear anymore, everyone is holding it like a breakfast rusk. For women who wear makeup, there is a simple reason: it helps to avoid putting ten layers of foundation, blush, powder and other eyeshadows on the device. And if you gentlemen are laughing foolishly, it’s because you haven’t experienced the loneliness that can be felt when you literally have to remove your mobile phone’s make-up.
But, if women have an excuse for the rusk mode, what is the one for men? I confessed my impotence to solve this enigma that I placed on the same level as the disappearance of DB Cooper.
If there is one thing that I hate, it is this mania that people have for listening to music, movies or calling on speakerphone in a public space, whether it is public transport or the hotel swimming pool or the beach or the restaurant. I bless the paid Wifi on airplanes, because, for at least a few hours, I can enjoy relative calm. Except when two women decide to crepe their bun for a place story, but, we’ll talk about it another time.
I had been relatively quiet on this point, not in Barcelona, but in Mallorca. Indeed, in public transport it is simply forbidden. Beware of anyone who does not respect the internal rules of the bus: he will be abruptly removed from the vehicle. Everything happens as if headphones, wired or Bluetooth, had become objects as rare as the philosopher’s stone.
In great paranoia, I admit here again my misunderstanding. What is the need to reveal a conversation out loud? In three weeks, I met almost every scenario: the FaceTime at the swimming pool in Romanian, the shouting match in Hebrew via interposed WhatsApp voice messages, the discussion between girlfriends at the beauty salon in Arabic, under the sneers in Mandarin of my friend Anna and her employees, conversations with the family in English, lovers transiting in Spanish, etc. I also intercepted Bulgarian, French, Italian, German and what seemed to me to be Portuguese. In short, I traveled without leaving my deckchair, while devouring books, the history of the KGB. The irony of the thing did not escape me. But, I was still left without an answer: why do it? Until this Wednesday morning.
My smartphone: my social asset
For my last day, I did not break my rule. Wake up at 8 a.m., breakfast and deckchair before 9 a.m., to enjoy this soft and comforting sun, caressed only by the sea air. Since a few days, several Romanian compatriots had landed The highly strategic location of the deckchairs — which has nothing to envy to the plans fomented by all the Parisians looking for the right place to sit on the metro – has made us literally form an entirely Romanian-speaking first line.
Except that my closest neighbor didn’t know it and he, he combined the morning tan with his daily point to manage his affairs. Thinking himself quiet — there were only two of us — he talked quietly with his associate about his business. But what struck me the most was not the lack of discretion he showed — even though he didn’t speak very loudly — but that he held his phone to his ear. And that’s when the obvious jumped out at me.
Holding your phone in a pinch, putting it on speakerphone, making the whole perimeter enjoy a telephone conversation is not only a lack of know-how or the most basic paranoia. It’s about showing people around that we have a social life, that we have friends, that we have an absolutely exciting life that we must imperatively share with the whole world, including people who have not asked for anything. It’s simply saying “I exist! Look at me! Listen to me! Look at me! Envy me! I need your gaze to affirm my ego”.
During my holidays, I watched The Americans series and read several books about the USSR and Russia (period before the USSR and current period). In particular, on the KGB, we will have the opportunity to talk about it again. As exciting as these readings were, I want to say that I dreamed in Russian and Spanish for several nights. Towards the end of the stay, other languages were added. My head turned into a Tower of Babel. Strangely, all the guests of my hotel, but not only, seemed to behave as if espionage — state or industrial — no longer existed. In their minds, the Cold War no longer exists, everyone is friends with everyone and we can unpack our whole life without difficulty.
And yet, it’s crazy what we can learn when we let an ear or two hang out. Especially in the hotel I was in, which was not exactly within everyone’s reach. To make a long story short: let’s say we were between people with a certain standard of living. There was plenty of “fun” to be had, but not only by using spy or hacking methods, but simply by listening in. We will also admit that being fluent in several languages is a fairly considerable asset.
Failing to have found possible scoops for Arcadia, I would at least have solved the mystery of the rusk phone, namely that it has become a very practical egotic accessory to give oneself a presence. Moral of the story: if you really care about your privacy, stop putting your phone on speakerphone, you’re ridiculous.
See you next week.