Thursday, April 15, 2010

S03 - Cell phones and how to use them

I found Yoon's text, “The representation of mobile youth in the post-colonial techno-nation of Korea” particularly interesting this week and I mostly agree with the arguments of the text and I think they are applicable not only to the youth in Korea, but generally to the youth all around the world. In my opinion, cell phones are dangerous both for us and the people around us. However, I say dangerous, not necessarily bad.
Perhaps the biggest danger is the fact that, in my opinion, cell phones stimulate alienation among people, while providing them more tools for communication at the same time. This happens not only because we substitute texting and calling for real meetings, but also because sophisticated technology sets some new ethical dilemmas we are not always prepared to answer properly. Recording people who are not aware of being recorded is just one example of how technology introduces some new ethical problems. Jeopardizing one's privacy can be one of the reasons people might not feel as safe around other people as they used to before. There is more potential fear of being exposed than before and that potential fear may increase alienation in the modern society. At the moment, a great majority of cell phones have cameras or the option of recording sound. The examples of how such properties of cell phones were misused are numerous both in popular culture and real life. Even though most of the people are probably not constantly afraid of being recorded, the awareness of the possibility of being recorded exists and that possibility suffices to make our society a little more like a Panopticon. The more a society is controlled, the less are people in it likely to be open with each other and that is why I claim that cell phones help in increasing alienation in our society.
On the other hand, the argument about cell phones enabling us to communicate with more people than ever before is still valid. Yet, I think that, when we meet people, quantity should not be more important than quality. Has the quality of our friendships really improved since we have cell phones? That is certainly debatable, but after looking at older generations, I would not say so. While the existence of cell phones makes the exchange of news (or gossips) much faster and easier, it does not change our capability to care about others. Even though cell phones often enable physical contact easier, I am not sure that they improve psychological understanding among people.
Cell phones are potentially a big danger not only when it comes to the general level of literacy, but also for the system of education in general. They enable a completely new way of “cheating” on the exams, along the fact that they tend to reduce vocabulary of people who “text” frequently.
Now, even though I listed all of these potential dangers of cell phones, I still own one and I don't think my existence would be much improved if I did not have it. I think that every one of us has a possibility to decide the extent to which something like a cell phone changes us. Moreover, we can think of a cell phone as a new challenge that, if mastered, can help us create better relations to other people and make our living easier instead of making it harder by, for example, reducing our vocabulary.

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