Amusing Musings of a Character Curious About Culture

Some Rants, Raves and Ramblings about All that I See

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Are You Really Here?

November 1st, 2009 · 128 Comments

This is the question that I wanted to ask my colleague, Vinh,  here.

You see, probably around 55 minutes of every hour, he is on the cell phone. He is almost always on the cell phone! Since all of the calls are in Vietnamese, I can’t understand what is being said, but I suppose that at least some of it was work-related.

But what’s more amazing and altogether disturbing as well is the fact that when Vinh is not talking on the cell phone, he is not really there with you. Do you know what I mean? I would ask him a question and he would have this far-away glazed look on his eyes like he’d just heard some buzzing insect dancing around his head and was about to swat it away. It would often take 2 or 3 times of repeating the question before he would come back to the real world and actually pay attention.

Now, I too am occasionally guilty of ignoring present company when talking on a cell phone. It’s just the way it works. Since the person on the other end of the line is so far away, I naturally have to raise my voice to near-shouting levels so that the people around me won’t drown out my voice, right? But I also know that when the call is finished, I am back in the Real World and that present company is where my attention needs to be.

With Vinh, it’s different. He never really returns to the Real World. He is still out there, his consciousness floating somewhere between cell towers trying to triangulate its way back to its earthly body.

Vinh is a normal-enough Vietnamese guy – his mother and fathers fought for the Vietcong in the “American War” (yes, you read that right – that is what it is called here, ironically). Vinh went to college to study international business and has a decent job, so he might be considered a little higher up on the class ladder that many Vietnamese. But the cell phone has come to rule his life so dramatically that he has lost touch with everything else. Vinh is not married at 30 – how could he be? You can’t marry what is really not there.

What’s also ironic is that the iPhone was just released in China, which means that it’ll be here very soon. With all of its games and programs that can check the weather, sports scores or let you check up on your favorite soap opera, how much more of a person’s soul will this technology claim?

Tags: Rants

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