Shashi Tharoor shares a 1919 ‘The pocket telephone’ cartoon, netizens laud cartoonist’s foresight

Mobile phones have become an integral part of our daily lives. Many people are glued to the digital screen right from waking up till they go to bed, and internet usage has become inevitable.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who leaves internet users astounded with his vast vocabulary, has shared an old 1919 cartoon predicting how technology would impact human lives. The cartoon has stark resemblance with the turn of events in the usage of mobile phones after several years and netizens are praising the cartoonist’s foresight.

The cartoon titled, “The pocket telephone: When it will ring!” features different circumstances in which a mobile phone will ring. It shows a man running to board a train and the mobile phone rings while another illustration shows a man struggling to pick up the phone as his hands are full.

Tickling the funny bone, the cartoon illustrates situations in which one finds it hard to attend a call, such as during rain, at a concert, or while getting married. When a man is about to hold a newborn baby, the phone rings much to the annoyance of a woman who says, “That bell is frightening the poor mite.”

The quote at the end of the cartoon reads, “The latest modern horror in the way of inventions is supposed to be the pocket telephone. We can imagine the moments this instrument will choose for action! (By WK Haselden).”

Tharoor termed the cartoon scarcely believable and the prediction as eerily prescient. He noted that fixed-line telephones were rare during the time when the cartoon was created. “Scarcely believable, but predictions about technology (usually wide off the mark) sometimes were eerily prescient. See this 1919 cartoon, when fixed-line telephones were still rare, which anticipated the mobile phone & the nuisance it could turn out to be 80 years later!” Tharoor tweeted.

The cartoonist earned plaudits online for the prediction. A user commented, “This is so real..! Well ahead of its times.”

Another user wrote, “Pretty sure this was considered ‘comical’ instead of it being prescient at that time. I can think of many visionary scatalogical jokes.” A third one commented, “This is absolutely a GEM of a cartoon. The artist could anticipate an entire Century.”


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