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

Published: October 16, 2010
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Advertisements tell us we need to talk, talk, talk all the time.

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

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 necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/1979/what-we-dont-know-will-hurt-us/ Syed Nadir El-Edroos

    Judging by the omnipresence of Telecom companies, one would think that they are the only thing around! are they?Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    Wow, you have some serious issues. Okay first of all, the ‘youth’ that you speak of are actually teens or 20-somethings so I think they’re smart enough to know what’s good for them. Secondly, some people just happen to tend a lot. When I was a kid, there was no such thing as a cellphone but I still talked nonstop, technology/phones have nothing to do with it. (Are any of the regular readers here surprised at that? :D) So if they want to talk obsessively because of all the important events that happened that day, what’s your dealio? Secondly, the call and text packages are actually mildly useful, I’m a Ufone user, I get the unlimited text package and the Uth package so I can talk longer to friends with Ufone and many of my friends with different services do the same. I think this piece would have been better if you had discussed telecom services more and people that talk a lot less. You forget the fact that the youth targeted are the people with active social lives, there is always something to talk about, the phadda at uni, your shopping spree, how he finally told her he likes her, how she slapped him for insulting her, how you saw your crush after so many days, lets face it once they graduate, they’re going to learn how much life sucks, so why not let them be happy and carefree and talkative? So what if someone is still walking with the phone stuck in their ear? I really don’t mean to be rude, but geez dude get a life. Get a simple torch then, since you don’t need a phone, lets see how long you get by.Recommend

  • Sabeer

    Okay Ghausia’s reply really cracked me up… I’m sorry but I’ll have to second every word she said up there.

    The only thing that made me click on this link was because of the heading.. but then, all I could read on my screen was ‘talk, talk talk talk, yap, talk’… I’m sorry. Either I was mistaken this was going to be about the telecom industry or you seriously forgot what you were writing about somewhere after the first 3 paragraphs.

    If only you had put in less effort in ‘talking’ and more effort in touching the real issue – my reply may have been different.Recommend

  • Ali Haider

    You see more ads by these telecom companies mainly because they are ‘still’ making a lot of money. The younger generation is the easiest target and therefore the ads are targeted towards them. I am strongly against these notoriously cheap ‘all-night’ packages. They are further corrupting our society.Recommend

  • http://ykhan.wordpress.com Yasser

    Nice write up, it’s good you touch this issue very differently and put your thoughts in simple, effective and straight forward manner.

    @Ghausia
    You are practically correct, though technically wrong and i guess you were bit harsh in the ending lines. What i see about this talk, talk and talk campaign is a disaster for youth, with these late night free minutes and etc etc, already facebook mania, skype is taking lot of productivity away from students. Youth now a days focus more on these online and Cell phone habits as compared to book reading and physical activities of sports. Those days were indeed good when we had expensive PTCL bills to pay up and Jazz 10Rs call per minute which certainly save time, money and focus on to the point conversation.Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Yasser dude, the youth were talking even before they had cellphones. Nowadays even kids have cellphones, I didn’t so I used the old fashioned telephone. Now, I finish Rs. 500 worth of credit within 24 hours. I’m constantly texting, and Skype with friends living abroad all the time. I’m addicted to my FB games to the point that I don’t even study for an exam without makign sure my pets are fed, my farm animals taken care of, and my restaurant running smoothly.

    But I still manage to maintain a 3.4 GPA, juggle my time between reading Ali Sethi and Sarfraz Manzoor, find the time to try to convince my dad to get me Obama’ss War despite the Rs. 2300 price, finish my assignments, do my homework, hit the gym, read the newspaper, spend some time with the family, and have a life. Its all about management which, believe it or not, my generation actually knows how to do. I mean, jeez, get a life, I’m sick of this “haye, hamari youth barbaad horahi hai technology se” give me a break. We’re the brat generation, we were born with cellphones in one hand and iPods in clipped to our diapers. We’re sorry that ‘adults’ can’t understand us, but there’s the generation gap for you.Recommend

  • Yumna

    hahahahahaha, agree to every single thing that Ghausia said! =DRecommend

  • http://ykhan.wordpress.com Yasser

    @Ghausia

    you are a gem, and not everyone is, it’s very hard to get GPA above 3.0 in uni like FAST and IBA and others. I guess the ratio is 10-20% even less in one section. i am not saying youth is getting barbaad, but surely IN MY OPINION without these talk talk and talk there are zillions of activities which can be helpful in terms of not only technology but can also help people retain their fitness level and better ways of socializing. I am of the same generation which you are talking about and i guess my research somehow agrees with the author of the post.
    Thank You very much :-)Recommend

  • http://facebook.com/uzair.javed Uzair Javed

    A nice read. Though, i’ll agree more with Ghausia. What i also believe is that our youth needs to learn the art of management and our adults need to learn psychology to better understand the young ones. The generation gap is wide and getting even wider with every passing day. Gone are the days when the shifts from grandfather to father to son were seamless. Its the day of technology, rapid development and one cannot keep up with the pace of life without embracing the marvels of technology.

    I am slightly inclined to alter Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet that “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” to “There is nothing either good or bad, but THE USE makes it so”.

    Having said that, we have equal opportunities to make the cell phones (or any other thing/device) good or bad for us, for our societies.

    Furthermore, the biggest problem with our people is not having the ability to see both sides of the picture and not being able to analyse unbiasedly both the pros and cons of something. What we face in our society, in our homes and on our telly sets are either over-emphasised pros or advantages or highly accentuated negative aspects of something. We need to educate, to get educated to be analytical, being able to manage things, being able to accept dissenting views and last but not least, being able to understand others.Recommend

  • parvez

    I think your article is pretty intense.
    You seem to be reading more into the subject than what actually exists there.
    By the way how did you manage to go on, and on, and on, on the subject of talking ??Recommend

  • http://www.incomefrommobiles.com Income From Mobile

    Guys any one can tell me what is UFone, mobilink, Telenor and others, are they from different countries network apart from UK or United Kingdom.

    Yes It is true that everything is going digital and people like digital products every single day, like phone now have become digital where people can see and talk. Everything will be go to digital.

    Any way thanks for sharing the article.Recommend

  • http://sadaf-fayyaz.blogspot.com/ SadafFayyaz

    Nice read………….Recommend

  • Waqas

    @Mubeshra: Apathy of the masses is not a doing of the telcos.
    @Ghausia: Everyone has a point of view, a little respect to the other person doesn’t undermine your opinion in any way. It’s a matter of experience, I have had experiences with people who don’t even think anymore, they would do stupid stupid things and won’t be bothered as long as their social circle is fine with it, they let the others do the thinking for them and the way they fake dignity and integrity is mind boggling. A third persons perspective of some social circles is very baffling. Only if they didn’t have so much to do to be a part of the social loop, they would have had more time for reflection and realize that being lonely is worse than being alone. I’m happy that things are fine and dandy at your end. Now can I have that comment where you call me a loser sociopath and tell me to get a life?Recommend

  • http://goldenpages-mubi.blogspot.com mubeshra

    @ Ghausia, you have a complete right to voice your opinion just like i had :) but there are a few concerns that i too have from your comments.. first, you mentioned that the young people have quite an active life which is true but are you trying to discriminate against people from other age groups? because i know a lot of men/women in their 50s and 60s who have an equally active life like us, my dad for example.
    secondly, i doubt that you were born with ipod and other gadgets attached to your diapers, coz as far as my knowledge of technology goes, ipods were launched only a few years ago and to be precise back in 2001.
    thirdly, i would like to make a suggestion if you want to buy the Obama book. why dont you try saving the 500 rs that is spent on mobile credit you were talking about :)
    and kudos to you for your GPA, though i have managed a little more than that with almost the same activities you have minus your farmville animals with my real life ones.

    lastly, gee thanks for the-leave-the-mobile-and-buy-an-actual-torch suggestion..thats a really sincere advice and i appreciate :D but i sure am curious where your sense of humour went ;)

    @ sabeer, well i never intended to write on what you thought you might have wanted to read:/

    @ Ali Haider, hmm my point was that young generation, including myself, are more prone to being easily influenced by the marketing tactics, and when a large number of people start following a trend, rest do too but obviously, its not necessary in all circumstances. and i personally feel that the packages and deals are quite unnecessary esp as Ghausia rightly pointed out, that technology or no technology, people would still talk.

    @ yasser, thanks. and everyone’s got a right to say what their perspective is

    @ Uzair, i take a point from what you wrote, ‘over emphasized pros’ of something and that is what i wrote. the corporate world shows us the extremely good picture of one thing and
    decides our needs for us. but at the end of the day its our choice, to either get influenced or not.

    @ parvez, from my perspective it really does exist

    @ Income from mobile.. ok Ufone is owned by PTCL, telenor by a Norwegian company, and mobilink is owned by Orascom HOlding.

    @ sadaf, thanksRecommend

  • http://goldenpages-mubi.blogspot.com mubeshra

    @ Ghausia, you have a complete right to voice your opinion just like I had :) but there are a few concerns that I too have from your comments. First, you mentioned that the young people have quite an active life which is true but are you trying to discriminate against people from other age groups? I know a lot of men/women in their 50s and 60s who have an equally active life like us, my dad for example. Secondly, I doubt that you were born with ipod and other gadgets attached to your diapers, coz as far as my knowledge of technology goes, ipods were launched only a few years ago and to be precise back in 2001.Thirdly, I would like to make a suggestion if you want to buy the Obama book. why don’t you try saving the 500 rs that is spent on mobile credit you were talking about :) and kudos to you for your GPA, though I have managed a little more than that with almost the same activities you have minus your farmville animals with my real life ones. Lastly, gee thanks for the-leave-the-mobile-and-buy-an-actual-torch suggestion..that a really sincere advice and I appreciate :D but I sure am curious where your sense of humour went ;)

    @ sabeer, well I never intended to write on what you thought you might have wanted to read:/

    @ Ali Haider, hmm my point was that young generation, including myself, are more prone to being easily influenced by the marketing tactics, and when a large number of people start following a trend, rest do too but obviously, its not necessary in all circumstances. and I personally feel that the packages and deals are quite unnecessary esp. as Ghausia rightly pointed out, that technology or no technology, people would still talk.

    @ yasser, thanks. and everyone’s got a right to say what their perspective is.

    @ Uzair, I take a point from what you wrote, ‘over emphasized pros’ of something and that is what I wrote. the corporate world shows us the extremely good picture of one thing and
    decides our needs for us. but at the end of the day its our choice, to either get influenced or not.

    @ parvez, from my perspective it really does exist

    @ Income from mobile.. ok Ufone is owned by PTCL, telenor by a Norwegian company, and mobilink is owned by Orascom Holding.

    @ sadaf, thanksRecommend

  • Live and learn

    @mubeshra:

    I couldn’t stop laughing after reading your response. You go girl ;)Recommend

  • SUB

    How about the economic activity in terms of jobs/ businesses & to make money change hands it has created in this God forsaken economic disaster in PakistanRecommend

  • Noreen Shams

    yah its a nice approach…… but I see there are the only two industries which are the great legacy of last government i.e Media and Telecommunication.. so they are going good if we think on commercially basis .. but yeah I agree these two ignoring their social responsibilities.. Recommend

  • http://faisalarshad.wordpress.com Faisal Arshad

    Excellent write up…just loved it…

    @Ghausia: seems you are the real version of ‘Imran Series’ or the ‘Popular Rajnikanth’Recommend

  • Sabeer

    @mubeshra:

    Erm you might want to read my comment again. Where did I suggest you should’ve written what I had to read? That’s not even there ‘between the lines’.

    There’s something called a ‘headline’ which should be written to reflect the article/body. Which, obviously, wasn’t the case in your article.

    But.. live and let live. So yeah.. good luck!Recommend

  • Deen

    I must say, I am certainly Quite Impressed that some one finally picked up this issue and wrote about it where many people can read it, and as a result of which it would get others to start thinking. One additional which however needs to addressed is, that the packages and plans offered by these companies, which are engaged in a continuous price war with each other, just how sustainable is their price and benefits based competitive marketing strategy. I agree its a very competitive market, which has also managed to keep some foreign giants out of the market also, but such a price war based competition, I do not see it as sustainable in the long term. I mean, cmon even if all those Free Minutes, Ghanta Packages and thousands of Free Text messages for switching over come with Strings attached, still such practises are not sustainable in the long run, and It will only be a matter of time, before the Telecom industry experiences declining profits.Recommend

  • afsa

    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. Recommend

  • Nida

    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.Recommend