Today we have many sophisticated means of communication, but some people still have a weakness for the “téléphone arabe” (the Arab phone, or bush telegraph). It is a rather ancient methodology, but despite its age, it works remarkably well.
The “Arab phone” is a French colloquialism roughly meaning “fast transmission of information by word of mouth”. It is a close cousin to gossip because what is being conveyed is usually “juicy” and not necessarily true. And since it might not be true, people prefer to remain anonymous when passing on titillating information.
“And why ‘Arab’? Because the expression originated in the 20th century regarding North African countries during colonization, a country where, before modern technologies spread there, important information was already circulating very quickly by word of mouth, via messengers or informants.”
Lately, the Arab phone has been very active because when you are idle, what can you do? You grab the Arab phone and exchange titillating tidbits with your besties.
“Words have no wings, but they can fly a thousand miles. “~ Korean Proverb
Even farther! People are especially fond of sexual peccadillos or famous people’s unethical behavior. Like the college admissions scandal, or the pathetic aborted Mexican vacation of senator Ted Cruz.
Everybody knows that the rich and famous are a caste apart not subject to the same rules as the working stiffs. These people are usually discreet about their misdeeds and none is the wiser, but once in a while they are found out and subject to popular glee.
The Arab phone also works well to express politically incorrect thoughts… or if you have ties to some shady outfits. It is way more discreet than the “do-it-all” fancy mobile phones of today, and you cannot be prosecuted for what you allegedly said. Nobody can seize your Arab phone and search it for incriminating evidence.
In a polarized society dominated by snooping devices, it is much safer to use the Arab phone than the Apple iPhone. And it is much cheaper. If you want a candid/partial report of what transpired at some private meeting, take advantage of the Arab phone to coax information from a friend.
But take everything with a grain of salt… and never trust anybody who loudly proclaims, “ma bouche est un tombeau” (my lips are sealed). The Arab phone is entertaining… but not totally trustworthy.