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Over the last two decades, a number of things have changed in Nigeria. One of these, I’m sure you’d agree, is the mobile phone. Yes, before the new millennium, we had mobile phones- only as mobile as the length of their wires! That’s right! The telephones. But what’s interesting to observe is the amount of behavioural change that has accompanied this ‘mutation’ in technology. Perhaps, some old ethics that might be worth keeping?

Cock Crow at Dawn

Back then, there was a general custom of not calling people’s homes before 9 am or after 9 pm. Any time that contraption rang outside these specified hours of the day, the conclusion was either of two things- an emergency call or that the person on the other end was culturally bankrupt. This principle is not outdated and the reason is simple. Most people are up in the morning, yes. But not to receive calls but to get ready for the day as they are either rushing to drop the kids at school or work or both. One phone call can easily disrupt one’s morning routine and alter the rest of the day. 9 am is just fine. 10am? Even better.

“True Caller”

During the era of phones with no caller id. The next logical question after “Hello” used to be, “Who is speaking?”. Some callers are so offended by this question these days. Others even end the call immediately. But before you shoot up the thermometer, remember that mobile phones are not spiritual devices. Like any other machine, they do crash, get stolen, or develop faulty screens. So instead of getting upset, try finding out why the person doesn’t have your contact anymore. The reason might just humble you.

“Torrential” Calling

Now, this is the one I just don’t get; calling a number- repeatedly… Over… and over again- till you hit 14 missed calls! Imagine our good old telephone with that very interesting high pitched ring tone going “griiiiiiiiiiin-griiiiiiiin” non-stop. The nice catchy ring tones we have these days haven’t changed the original concept. A ring tone is simply to draw attention that a caller is on the line. An unanswered phone call means either of two broad categories; “I cannot pick your call”, or “I WOULD not pick your call”. In the case of the latter, some assume vengefully calling endlessly is torturing the person. But remember our local saying, “the child that says the mother won’t sleep, will not get any sleep either”.

Did I Wake You?”

A personal experience that has brought me tears and incessant headaches occurred when taking a nice nap and I make the unfortunate decision of leaving my phone close by. The phone rings, you pick the call. The caller is observant enough and asks, “Did I wake you up?” You drowsily reply in the affirmative, YET this ‘observant’ individual continues yapping about whatever. Please, if you are observant enough to know you woke someone from sleep, be equally considerate enough to suggest calling back later. That information or gist can wait; unless it’s an emergency of course.

“I’m Driving”

The matter is simple. You know how unthinkable it was to handle a telephone while driving? The same applies to your mobile phone. Yes, it’s more portable and easy to handle but it isn’t any less distracting. Let’s not even go into the subject of texting. This is one principle that people find difficult to practice so here is a simple solution that might help matters. When you make a call and the person at the other end says those words, “I am driving”, please, end the call quickly- immediately. It would be nightmarish knowing a friend or loved one had an accident or even died because you didn’t put the phone down. And when driving, keep your phones in your handbags or pigeon holes. The further the phone is from you, the less often your hands would roam. Graham Bell invented the phone to improve communication and make life better. Let’s play our part to maximize this wonderful invention.

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This article was first published on 16th August 2017


Chioma Diru is a prolific writer, agricultural entrepreneur and life coach with a heart for children. Chioma works freelance for the BBC Media Action. Her work titled “The Twin Logs” was nominated for the Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize, 2016. She is Creative Director and Co-founder, Canuli Media which specializes in children’s entertainment. She is the author of “Sodality”, a children’s novel which you can buy here.Email her:

Comments (4)

4 thoughts on “5 Important Telephone Ethics”

  • Ed

    Hahaha, good one, Chioma. You said 14 missed call, I’ve had 15 and it was when I answered the person just wanted to know ‘WHAT’S UP?’. “Did I wake you?” or “are you asleep?” takes the hat, to that I want to answer “yes, I’m asleep right now, it’s my spirit talking to you”

    • Thanks for your comment. That’s so funny!

  • Oh my goodness! Just yesterday I had 9 missed calls and when I calles back all l the person wanted to know was if I had given birth!!!

    • Thanks for commenting Jubemi. It’s unbelievable but let’s just hope people turn a new leaf concerning this habit.

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