Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blog Post #9

In “The representation of mobile youth in the post-colonial techno-nation of Korea” Yoon offers an analysis of the mobile phone culture and the social responses to it that interests me a lot. That is partly because I grew up in China and have seen similar phenomena associated with the mobile phone in China, and have been kind of perplexed by them. According to Yoon, “the mobile phone's interruption of study and schooling is believed to increase the pathological behaviors of young people” (115). I remember how mobile phones were forbidden in my high school, and how the general opinion among students was shaped to associate the use of mobile phones with “bad” students – it was not uncommon to hear about stories of students who were too absorbed in their mobile phone activities and caused bad consequences one way or another. Yoon writes about concerns in Korea about mobile phones’ ability to threaten “communal ways of communication.” I also remember my classmate writing an essay about how the proliferating mobile phone usage is harming intimate/authentic experience of interpersonal relationships, impairing the bonds between family members and close friends. And I am talking about a few manifestations of a kind of dominant attitude/opinion among the public. Yoon reads these phenomena as driven by that “the dominant system of representation does not allow the signifiers of possible lives imagined by new literacy and technology to find a place in the everyday practice of ordinary Koreans” (119). This offers us a good reason to re-examine the notions that technology makes revolution, which has been proclaimed more and more often these years, with more and more “revolutionary technologies” coming up. But technologies are neutral for sure. Historically, newspaper emerged at a time when a new middle class was coming into being and was demanding cultural democracy. Thus as the first mass medium it has often been associated with democracy. But if we look at how in 1950s to 1970s China newspaper was used by the state as an effective means to control and guide people’s opinion, it is not hard to separate the newspaper technology from the institutional structure and practice determined by the social and economical relations at a specific historical and spatial point. I suspect the same could be said about mobile phones and computers, although at present it’s a lot more complicated to find the right way to say it. If this is the case, it is really problematic that people think a new technology should have the power to guide a people to the pursuit of freedom.


Anna's section

No comments: