Changing Cultures

by: I-Vonne Lim


Touchscreens. I see them everywhere. Gatherings, cafes, malls; anywhere with people. It seems as if touchscreens are man’s new spouse. Agree?


Alright, coming from a typical Chinese family, I meet my extended family members usually once a year – Chinese New Year. It is commonly the reunion saturated with lots of food, warm hospitality, snippets of “wow, you’ve grown so much” topic, and some rounds of games like mahjong, cho tai ti, and card games, motivated by a practice of gambling, to raise competitive spirits, and to add to the fun of the whole game.
My last Chinese New Year was rather different compared to previous years, as if it is taking on a revolutionary trend. Guess what? This ‘revolutionary trend’ is initiated by touchscreens.My uncle and family (with two children aged 14 and 11) owns three iPads, and two iPhones.


During the last ‘revolutionary trend’ CNY reunion, the whole family was in the living room of the home, all engaged in a game of the touchscreen gadgets. It was a rather phenomenal sight to witness in a I-only-meet-them-once-a-year family reunion. Not only that, walk into restaurants and cafes, and you’ll see families dining, while their kids engaged with Angry Birds, and the youths, Temple Run.


I personally feel that touchscreens have made people antisocials. It is undeniable that a whole new phenomenal alleviation of lives has occurred through the penetration of culture by Androids, iPhones and iPads that provide an inarguable limitless convenient access to any piece of information or entertainment.


However, an overindulgence in these technologies take your attention off people, and into the virtual world.Some people may say that applications like Whatsapp, Viber and other bridges of communication keep people close. Yes, certainly they do, without doubt.


Sometimes, I do feel that an extreme convenience of communication lowers the significance and importance of our conversations. For example, which among these do you appreciate most on your birthday – a wish on your Facebook wall, a text message, a call, a mail to your residence?


Notice that I’ve arranged the four options in hierarchy of convenience levels, from the most convenient to the least. The more effort is takes for you to communicate with someone, the more sincere you are, and the more important the other is to you.


I believe that these make real relationships – relationships that last. In my opinion, the foundation of a good life lies in the person’s relationships and connections with others. I mean, real relationships.


Everybody belongs to a community and society. Why not engage with people, and not our technologies? I believe it is utterly not wrong to add spices of entertainment and great access to information through our handy tech gadgets, but I also believe that there is a time and place to do so.


It should take our personal time, not during reunions, dinners, and gatherings, because it simply compromises the chance of us advancing not only our lives, but the lives of others who surround us, whereby a simple encouraging, mind-opening conversation could make such a difference in their lives.


That’s what they call, engaging people. It all boils down to living in moderation. That is, to utilize them moderately, hence to have a balanced level of input in our beings, at the same time, using the inputs to make a difference in people, and in the world. It is evident that the new generation are captivated by games on tech gadgets, where games come first before friends. It is sad that these virtual avenues are such  antisocial makers of the young kids today.


I wish to not imagine what would become of them in the future. Yes, they would be extremely informed. But perhaps, from the Dinosaurs, to the Ice Age, to the 20th Century, to the Silent World, where the eyes see only one thing – the screen in hand.


I look forward to my next CNY reunion, seeing the “silent world” subtly creeping into my family.

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