Have we lost the ability to do nothing?
Last night I was waiting on Reykjanes peninsula for the perfect northern lights.
The conditions were perfect: cold, very windy and 70 percent clear sky.
One in ten times you succeed.
While waiting for the right moment, I read about the Algerian hostage drama, the Israeli elections, English Premier League, the Mali conflict, and mobile maps—on my mobile.
In the past, I would just sit in my SUV, wait and think, or just do nothing at all. Now I have lost the ability to do nothing.
I am not the only one. Look at people sitting at the airport or taking the tube, bus or even people in class—everyone is on their mobile. Everyone, anytime.
On Facebook, playing Angry Birds, streaming music, on Twitter, Google or just reading the news.
This is a revolution.
5.2 billion phones in use, in a population of 7.1 billion humans.
And before we know, half will be smart phones.
What surprised me the most is that in places like Mali (which I have visited three times) it seems like everyone has a phone. A dumb phone, with a 2MP camera.
And in large parts of the country there is no electricity to put juice in your mobile—nor will there be in the near future.
This is what I was reading on Der Spiegel on my mobile:
Northern Mali has been cut off from the outside world since the first air strikes. In the northeastern city of Gao, local journalist Moumouni Touré watched as an Islamist leader with wire cutters tampered with mobile phone towers. “They are severing the connection so to prevent the local population from providing information to the French,” says Touré.
This country is one of my favorites on the continent; so colorful and with so much history and great places like the aforementioned Gao, Djenné, Mopti (where the above image was taken), and the Dogon country. Timbuktu is strange but not one of my favorites; it is the end of the world.
It is so sad that this new conflict will put new and even greater hardships on the people of Mali.
People who have not lost their ability to be at peace with themselves.
But with others (read Islamists), it is another and crueler story.
And then I looked up from my flickering mobile and Mali story on Sky, up to the sky looking for any signs of the northern lights.
But my phone could tell me where I was. Good to know when you get lost, in all the news.
Páll Stefánsson - firstname.lastname@example.org