Dr John Smith: Mobiles have taken away thinking time

The prevalence of mobile phones today has eaten into our thinking time, says Dr John
The prevalence of mobile phones today has eaten into our thinking time, says Dr John

There she was, Cilla Black, sitting on a wall with her boyfriend waiting for the telephone to ring.

But there was no mobile in her hand, the phone was 20 yards away in a telephone box.

As we sat watching Cilla, this amazing drama, it was the telephone that caught my eye. It is only 50 years ago but how different it was.

No mobiles, no instant availability, no texting, no-one walking into you in the street phone in hand, no loud intrusive conversations in a railway carriage, no mobiles used dangerously in cars.

When Cilla was a young star many homes did not have a telephone, a significant minority did not have a television or a washing machine and some not even a refrigerator.

Yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s essentials, with the mobile probably at the top of the list.

The computer, the iPad and the mobile with their ease of access and the expectation of an immediate reply have done something else.

They have removed thinking time, time for a considered response. The first thing we say is not necessarily the best thing, the first decision not always the wisest.

It is not always rude to make people wait, waiting and thinking are often the right thing to do.

As a doctor I needed time to think, the rushed diagnosis can be a dangerous one. If we communicate less we might communicate more, communicate with more sense and more meaning.

So Cilla sat on the wall waiting for the telephone to ring.

It seems like a lifetime away but it is not.

It is part of our history that should help us not take everything for granted.

If only we could stop and think for a while.