OPINION

Mobile lifestyle

A news report that went largely unnoticed last week said 10 million cell phones are active in Greece today – roughly as many as the total population. The number is stunning. If Greece has not set a new world record, then it certainly is the quickest in absorbing mobile phone technology. The masses have been won over by mobile phone culture. Children, adults, businessmen, migrants, workers, even primary school students talk or text each other from their mobiles, spending an amazing amount of time and money. The average Greek has a mobile attached to his ear. The new technology filled the gap in the growing communication needs in the social and economy domains, providing solutions to the shortcomings of fixed-line telephony. But, it soon snowballed into an overconsumption frenzy that has underscored the penchant for overconsumption in Greek society, the social transformation of the last two decades, and the change in longstanding values and role models. A look at the average family budget shows a shift toward services, notably modern ones like telecommunications. What does the success of mobile telephony show? Is it a temporary expression of overindulgence or the result of ongoing social change? Is it a passing phase or a sign of the changing urban lifestyle? Is it in line with real economic growth, or is it an aspect of economic deception? Does Greece’s average income level justify the extra cost? If not, is it a sign of other sources or are households passing from an era of savings to an era of excess borrowing in an attempt to sustain their living standards? There is no simple answer to these questions. They require scientific approach. Mobile telephony has only sparked it off.