Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Cell Phone Culture

Among other things, Seoul is a cellular telephone culture. Everywhere you look you see somebody with Mr cellphone. Without execption the younger generation seems to have one in their possession, and often times you'll see the older generation with them too. If you take the subway you'll see at least 5 people talking, playing games, or text messaging on them to pass time. There's seldom a class period that goes by without the murmer of cell phone vibrations, and the clandestine reponses to friends that inevitably follows.

Text messaging is in fact, an intricate skill. One simply watches in awe as they first witness a connoisseur text messager perform their craft. With frightening speed the fingers take on one of those visual effects in which the eye is too slow to process the action (similar to watching a humming bird flutter its wings).

Before coming to Korea, i walked around with adamant aversion to those who needed to walk around with a cell phone pressed to their ear between classes as if it were a cigarette break. I wondered if the people within their proximity were not as worthy of a greeting. Like the movie "Lost in Translation," I felt that people have a million different ways to connect with their expensive little gizmos, but ironically they're distanced by them and can't connect (at least in any intimate sense), and thus all is lost in technological translation.

All of us Oles eventually purchased one. The cohorts insisted upon their importance. when my parents came my dad joked about my hypocricy. I justified my purchase and use of it through cultural argument: when in seoul (wanting to learn their culture), do as the seoulians do. And like it or not, they are neccessary if you want to find a friend in such a big place.


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