We're being stalked by Ufone, Mobilink, Telenor et al!

Repetition is used to brainwash people and telcos would like us to believe we need to talk more and more and more...

Mubeshra Pracha October 16, 2010
While surfing through channels yesterday, I saw an ad about 'talking' and 'shawking'.

For the umpteenth time, I realised we are being pushed into a culture of ‘talk more’. Have you ever noticed the plethora of telecommunication advertisements?

They are everywhere.

Switch on  the radio and the same advertisements are being aired, with their not-so-subtle offers to talk at the cheapest rates in the world. Open a newspaper and the big expensive adverts glare back at you.

Lets not forget the huge billboards adorning the city. Its like the advertisement companies and the telecommunication business are following you everywhere. Even if by some miracle you are able to ignore all these forms of advertisements about cheap call rates, hundreds of free smses and low activation charges, you are bound to get a text message on your mobile phone about their newest life changing offer which is going to let you talk more.

The concept of talking and messaging more is disturbing. It's not just the message of the connection companies, but the way it's being delivered. The tag lines, jingles and awkward laughing and dancing adults with their fingers and mouths working  obnoxiously.  It's like telling an entire nation of 170 million that talking is the panacea of our lives. Like ‘talking’ is some secret mantra that’s going to change our lives. Maybe be a replacement of abracadabra, that is going to change our brain dead, blame game master politicians into sober, sensible men and women. As if buying these connections, using their offers of lowest or almost free call rates (which by the way is not true) from night till dawn (the hours when healthy individuals should be in bed dreaming) will be able to change everything.

What happens next? What happens when we activate all these remarkable, ground breaking offers to talk more? What kind of message are telecommunication companies putting in young minds? Obviously, their target audience is young people, who will readily and fearlessly accept a new trend and in turn influence others around them. The tactic is to get young people hooked onto a product so that the rest will follow the trend.

The airtime these advertisements use is against  PEMRA’s rule no 15  Programmes and Advertisement Content, Section 3, which clearly states that the duration of a commercial break cannot be for more than three minutes and there should be at least 15 minutes of regular programming before another commercial break. Unfortunately, we are a nation proud of breaking rules. Everything is repeated on TV. I don't know if I'm more mad at the idiot box or the talking culture being promoted by the telecom companies. Speaking of repetition, isn't it also one of the tactics used world wide to brain wash people? That's how they promote messages like fair skin colour gets you good rishtas/ jobs, all Muslims are terrorists and the war on terror is legitimate. It's all repetition. The message that Muslims are terrorists was repeated over and over again until everyone believed it to be true. Its like drilling a message into your brain until you are unable to differentiate right from wrong.

Corporate culture has always  been about brain washing people into believing they need  things. It's always been about nurturing the idea of ‘more is better’. The same goes for cellular companies. The repetition of why we need to talk more is aired on the radio, put up on boards, played on the TV – it is everywhere for us to absorb, and will eventually result in product sales.

What worries me is the content of the talk. What do people talk about once they have bought the economical talk packages that last through the wee hours of the night? One step out of the house and all you get to see is people with their ears glued to their latest mobile phones, talking away to someone probably not even listening on the other end of the line. I go out for a walk and it's good to see so many people adopting a healthy lifestyle, but that's not all you see.

Every other person out walking is busy talking, some loudly and some in whispers. It's interesting to note that people who are in a gossiping mode have a brisk walk, while those who happen to be lovebirds walk slowly and leisurely. After two rounds of walking,  if I see the same faces again with cell phones tucked between their shoulder and ear, it's hard to believe that they are still talking. It's also heart breaking that none of my friends have activated free packages to talk to me. Its kind of pinching when I see myself using the mobile for a source of light, while others are actually talking!

I love the phrase "talk the talk but walk the walk," which I have noticed is a new catch line for journalists challenging the people in power. For me, however, anything that contains the word ‘talk’ is a total turn off. Seriously, what do people talk about for such long hours? How to change the educational system of our our country, how not to litter on the streets, how to work on a new scientific project or maybe how one’s evil mother in law plotted against her pious daughter in law? How she saw her ex boyfriend with someone she envies, how two aunties went to look for a rishta for their charming sons, how so and so’s boss is delaying the appraisal and maybe inviting the boss to dinner will fasten the chances of a bonus? Such are the trivial things we use the wonderful ‘talk more’ packages for.

I was wondering what a nation of talking people achieves? Even the crow convention outside seems to be using the tempting talk more offers. Wow and they are loud, quite like our beloved politicians.  I just read "Zardari vows to protect democracy." Now that's something to discuss over a cheap international call to my brother. Thank you, thank you  telecommunication talk more culture!
Mubeshra Pracha A journalism graduate from Kinnaird College, Lahore. She also writes for www.borderlinegreen.com
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Nida | 13 years ago | Reply A well written article which truly reflects the reality which is really destroying the majority of the youths who are the most affected victims of these talk more packages.these advertisments are really annoying appearing just after another challenging other connections to attract everyone towards them. @Ghausia :these packages are just making you waste your money..u should rather try to spent them on any person who is in more need of it.
afsa | 13 years ago | Reply I totally agree with the article. Different packages offered by these companies are really creating confusion.when someone want to to buy a connection there are too many choices but all seems same. majority of the packages that promise low rates have timings that go late into the night, it becomes impractical to use them if one desires.
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