~ Archive for Mobile Culture ~

Digital Brats

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I feel that communications technologies- as they become more advanced- are not making human beings more sophisticated, but rather nurturing immaturity and insolence.

I am only speaking from a communications point of view, because I believe that new technology such as the Internet, cell phones, and games all have tremendous benefits. However, when it comes to actual face-to-face communications, these technologies are rather hindering quality communications and deteriorating individual manners.

For example, how many times does your opposite speaker answer his or her cell phone during a talk? It used to be that one would apologize to the other person and answer the phone- but then, as text-messaging took off, people start texting without stopping to excuse himself to the other person. Technically, it makes sense, because the person texting a message only has his hands occupied and his ears are still open to what the person in front of him is saying. But then came the Blackberry and the iPhone and now people are replying to and checking their emails during a physical conversation. All this is done without the apologetic “one moment, please” to the speaker in real life.

This kind of behavior among adults is something that would usually be found in children; for instance when children will be texting or playing video games, ignoring what the parent is saying. Unlike children, however, the reason behind adults’ behavior is not because they want to avoid conversation, it is because they are in too much of a rush to wait.

In the “olden days” there would be no way out in situations where a conversation (or lecture, sermon, conference, etc.) was uninteresting. But with technology, it is becoming more common to peruse on digital devices without giving the impression of being wholly detached. Great programs such as twitter or live question tools sometimes become a place where people can distract themselves without feeling entirely guilty.

This, to a certain extent, has relation with speed. The swift connection to Internet lets one click from here to there; ubiquitous mobile connection to the Internet makes cyber perusing even easier. Function replaces form and time/energy are not wasted as people multitask. Are we becoming more efficient or inhuman? With all this connectivity, why is it that people are becoming more isolated in the real world and closer in cyber? Why should these two be separate at all?

Texting during a video phone call

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Yesterday, I was waiting to meet someone at a coffee shop and was looking around, bored. I noted unsurprisingly, that half the people were on their cell phones. I was intrigued, however, by the girls sitting next to me. They looked like they were in their early twenties and they were having a video call with a boy using a cell phone. The girls took turns talking with the boy but interestingly they spoke very little; instead, looking at the boy’s face on the screen, they rapidly used their thumbs, engaging in a text conversation.

That struck me as being very weird- is it faster for them to text than talk? I was puzzling over this thought in my head- if that were indeed true, what an evolutionary milestone in communication that would be! My curiosity finally got the better of me and when they were over with the phone call, I asked them why they were texting instead of talking.

The answer turned to out to be a simple one- result of technology and etiquette. The girls said that in video phoning, they had to speak a little louder for the phone to catch their voice since they were holding the phones in front of their face; not directly next to their mouth. Because of this, it was more difficult to hold private conversations and they didn’t want to disturb the people around them.

-But then why not have a regular conversation instead of a video one? Isn’t video phoning more expensive?
-Yes, but he wanted to see my friend too.

Ah yes, video phoning makes it very difficult to lie about where you are and whom you are with. Not that people do…or do they?

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