It seems an incredible irony that the more developed our society becomes, with the undoubted benefits of technology and communication, the less kind it seems to be (There ought to be plenty of advantages for the crime writer in that!). For example, with the mobile phone came theft, intimidation and bullying, as schoolchildren were quick to discover; camera-enhanced phones only worsened the problem, as ‘happy-slapping’ ensued.
Now, as the phones become smarter and smarter, people’s capacity to exploit them for malicious purposes seems to grow and grow. How different was the mobile-less world of my childhood, which had only public telephones with buttons A (which you pressed to speak once the call got through) and B (to get un-used money back). Even then, the human mind was looking to exploit an opportunity: young children (self included!) always nipped in to press button B in the hope that someone had forgotten to retrieve their pennies (the big coins of pre-decimal days) and there were naughty ways of clicking the receiver to make free calls (though I was too young to master them!). Nevertheless, I don’t think people were particularly at risk from using a telephone box, whereas now a mugger on a bike will snatch a phone from someone’s hand and make off with it; parents now provide their children with a phone to improve their safety and by doing so increase the risk of danger.
For me, mobile phones are a very mixed blessing, as some excellent and very humorous bloggers of my acquaintance have recently confirmed. I hate having to listen to other people using them, which they seem to do all the time on train journeys; the battery on mine is always flat at the time I really need to make a call; my husband’s phone is invariably switched off when I call him (Read into that what you like!); someone rings when I’m taking a quiet walk in the countryside; I could go on and on. Worst of all, though as an owner of one I ought to be completely au fait with how it works, I’m not conversant with its finer capabilities and I certainly know that I won’t be using it as a plot device any time soon, because there would inevitably be a glaring technical error for all to laugh at! I’m not keen on procedurals, anyway.