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August 12, 2005

Phones Make Korea a Silent Society


Living Without Saying a Word All Day

"The mobile phone bill of college student Oh Su-hyeon (21) for the month of July lists 648 text messages and four hours and 55 minutes of talk -- an average of 21.6 text message a day and an average nine minutes and eight seconds of conversation. ”I used to spend about two hours on the phone every day, but now I send text messages. All you need to do is state your business, there's nothing superfluous and it's convenient." [...]

If in an age of near-ubiquitous communication people have become paradoxically quiet, it is because means of communication that replace the spoken word, like chat programs and text messengers, are cheap, convenient to use and accessible everywhere. There are people who say they could live comfortably without saying a word all day, and who send so many SMS and chat online so much that sometimes they find it awkward to talk. Yet it is the telephone that is at the heart of these changes, a device that is rooted more than anything else in the attempt to allow people to talk. [...]

Cell phones with GPS navigation systems have also created a world where no one needs to ask directions, and DMS systems allowing people to watch TV on their phones have replaced gossip as a way to kill time. But the changes are taking place elsewhere too. Manned subway ticket booths are being visited by much fewer people. Cho Dong-hwan, the manager of Gwanghwamun Station on subway Line 5, says of the 28,000 passengers who use Gwanghwamun Station daily, over 80 percent use transport cards. ”The overwhelming majority of passengers using the ticket window are asking for senior citizen tickets.“

There are concerns that the silent society could aggravate alienation and isolation. But experts say there is no need to expect the worst: it is merely that communication is changing, from face-to-face to other forms, yet the flood of communication itself has not stopped. [...]

Yonsei University sociologist Kim Ho-gi says young-generation ”cool“ means a preference for writing over speech. ”Speech is loaded with feeling, and because young people prefer communication styles that convey meaning simply and clearly while keeping their own emotions in check, they like communicating through text messages." Link [via ratchet up]

Posted by jo at August 12, 2005 09:09 AM