Disconnection

Does anyone in the world not own a mobile phone?

I recall a time, maybe a hundred years ago, when mobile phones didn’t exist.  Remember? No, probably not.  They have invaded our lives to such an extent, that it’s inconceivable to imagine life before them, nor contemplate a day without them.

Here in Hong Kong, local phone calls (landline to landline) are free. You might think that’s wonderfully generous, and a super deal – except – everyone uses mobile phones. A large percentage of Hong Kongers don’t even bother to install a fixed line telephone.  Every social class, from top to bottom, finds the means to get wirelessly connected.

I have spent some time in Africa, and I can attest – if you pay a visit to a shanty town in Zambia, a large part of the population live in mud brick houses, and if they are lucky, will have a thatched roof, if not, corrugated iron covers their meager possessions – not so comfortable in 35 C (95 F) summer heat. Yet standing outside will be groups of people, on their mobile phones.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, there are many advantages to being connected, and I believe that people should enjoy a few luxuries, regardless of their circumstances. Oh and also, for writers, it’s manna from heaven.

Years ago, a funny video was watching a dog chase its tail, or a teenager trying to jump his bike over the cat, only to see the ramp collapse… These days, it’s people on their phone – I certainly do it, I bet you do it too: total unawareness while texting or talking. Mobile phones have changed the way we perceive the world, well, actually they have taken our perception away completely.  Take note: (this is a YouTube video, not spam)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx2L9g0reNo&feature=related

When I had a real job, my phone was my friend. I would get kind of edgy if I hadn’t checked it for more than 10 minutes for emails or messages; I needed it; it was a drug. Now, of course, as a writer, I don’t feel the same need to be ‘in the loop’. You know, it’s kind of liberating. I still won’t leave the house without it, but now, I don’t need to be constantly checking, or using it.

Sometimes, it feels as if I’m watching a movie, I get to observe the world around me without my nose stuck in my i-whatever.  The amount of people who barely glance up as they go about their day is staggering. I have endless fun watching people bump into posts, walls and each other; it’s “The Plague of the Zombies” on a daily basis. Now if only I had a phone that records video, I could…well, become one those people again.

I read the other day of a group that organizes “technology free” holidays. No phones, email, Facebook or Twitter. It’s called a “digital detox”.  Don’t believe you have a problem? Then simply leave your phone at home one day, see how you go. Don’t Twitter, facebook, sms or call anyone for, say, 8 hours.  Sit on the bus/train/ferry or tram, look out the window and admire the view, rather than play a game or answer emails, just for 20 minutes. It’s hard. We are so connected and dependent on technology that life without it is hard to do.

I’m a realist, unplugging is nothing more than temporary, but give it a go, see if it’s as easy as you think it would be.

About Tim

I'm an expat dad, living in Hong Kong. Being a parent, especially a dad, is simply fraught with danger. Mums seem to have this built-in radar for trouble and danger - I do not. http://beingdadinasia.com - all about my life, being dad. http://achipofftheoldblog - all about the funny and strange things I see. View all posts by Tim

3 responses to “Disconnection

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