Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hand Phone and the New World We Make

At the Incheon Catholic University of Plastic Arts a student showed a portfolio to a teacher. Human bodies were pictured with chains; one body with drooping shoulders and head bowed had the tag Homo-telephonic.

Poking fun at our newest addiction, the cell phone and its many variations, has become comic material. Perhaps a good indication of how many are beginning to perceive this ever present new reality.

The teacher agrees that the cell phone has become the alter ego for the younger generation. The phone seems inseparable from the person. Leaving home without the phone is almost unthinkable--there would be no phone numbers, no certainty about appointments, no messages to receive, and no friends to contact.

However, that's not likely to happen. Cell phones are everywhere--in subways, in buses and on sidewalks. In our individualistic society, we are getting accustomed to making contact in virtual communities. We feel more comfortable moving about in these virtual communities than we do in real communities. The teacher feels that the desire of many to be in almost constant communication comes from a sense of loneliness, arising from a lack of peace and security from within themselves.

The cell phone hugged close to the ear and mouth is the new image of the young. To become more human, the teacher recommends leaving the phone home and replacing it with more face to face contact.

In Korea, as in most developed countries, people consider the cell phone a necessity. It is convenient, you can contact and be contacted at any time, and it provides a feeling of security in case of emergencies. Even with the sense of privacy that comes with owning your own personal phone, you feel you are never really alone--as long as you can dial someone's phone number.

For Luddites or neo-Luddites ( those opposed to industrialization and new technologies), life can become more difficult. Here in Korea, and in other countries as well, the convenience of public telephone booths to make a phone call is no longer an option for those without cell phones. Once an innovation is replaced by another considered better, those not willing to change with the changes in society will find it more difficult to function as well as they had before the changes. Though some might regret the changes, change is inevitable and no doubt will win out in the end.

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