Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cell Phone Use in Korea, Friday 11am Section

My attention this week was captured by the article, “The representation of mobile youth in the post-colonial techno-nation of Korea.” I’ve long wondered about the cultural impact of the cell phone and so was pleased by this reading’s analysis. My impression from the article is that the Korean population is particularly alarmed by the prevalence of cell-phone use by young Koreans. I also found it interesting how there seems to be a general consensus in Korea to try to satisfy the need to adopt new technologies without giving up those cultural traditions that define what it means to be Korean. The arguments being expressed by this article seem to limit this threat to the cell-phone with little mention of the role that the internet plays. For example, the “mobile panics” listed on page 111 can just as easily be born from internet use as they can from cell phones.

While I can understand how most of these “panics” came to be, I’m wondering how cell phones “precipitate the loosening of familial and communal bonding.” All the article talks about with regards to this particular issue is how the absence of familial mediation could breakdown communal ways of communication. It seems to state this as some sort of fact when I find the reality to be the exact opposite. The cell phone makes it possible to keep in touch with others in unprecedented ways. I’m not just talking about the fact that since everyone has a cellphone, you can contact whoever you want, when you want. The cell phone facilitates traditional, physical communication by enabling you to coordinate with people at all times. I remember the days before everyone had a cell phone where I would have to meet people at specific times and places if I wanted to see them. With cell phones, I can meet with more people much more easily.

I also think describing extensive cell phone use as addictive is the wrong way to look at the issue. I use my computer everyday because I have to, not because I’m addicted. The same goes for my cell phone. I don’t understand the thought of exercising “self-control” when it comes to everyday tools because their usefulness requires me to use them.

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