Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Technology Regression

Clearly, months into this and reverse culture shock pain is still an issue.

You see, after living in South Korea for so long, I adjusted to the incredibly high level of technology that was there and adjusted to how people used that technology. In some ways that means my habits have changed. I remember sitting on the Seoul subway watching TV. Here in Manhattan you can't even get a phone signal on the subway. IT.IS.TRAGIC.

I was the teenager who was on the phone forever. Now you're only going to catch me on the phone for a long time if I'm talking to a close friend or something like that. I still have those conversations, but they're much more rare. Who has the time? I'm not going to get on the phone just to give someone a brief message. I'll send you a text or an email, but I'm not calling. I actually think it's less intrusive to send a text or an email. Why make someone pick up the receiver or have to dial into their voicemail? (BTW, Google Voice is awesome...they transcribe voicemails!)

However, I am still very communicative. It's just that you can bet that you're probably going to get a text or an email rather than a phone call.

Anyway, I have an appointment to meet someone tomorrow for a project I might help him with. He emailed me, and I replied. I honestly didn't even think to give him my number. However, he asked for it, so my bad.

His assistant writes me back pretty much stressing that before they'll can lock down a time that they need a number. That's fine. I'm not holding on to it because I don't take phone calls. It just didn't click as I'd just woken up. However, it didn't click for a much deeper reason. It didn't click because talking on the phone for anything isn't my first instinct anymore.

He had my email. For me THAT'S how you find me these days.

I've got a Blackberry and that thing is always on. In fact, I've learned the hard way to always keep it plugged in. I've had nights where I've come in and not taken it out of my purse. I wake up the next morning to a phone completely out of power. I guess there is so much data coming in that the power just drains completely. That little red light is always flashing. (I also heard they're pretty notorious power, it's what I have, so I deal.)

I just thought it odd that for this person having a phone number was so important that before making an appointment he had to have my number.

It led me to think of a recent freelance job I was on. One day the woman who hired me and I were talking. I said I'm not the type to be on the phone when someone can just send me a quick text message or email. That way I don't have to stop what I'm doing for long. I just check it and keep working. She took that as me saying I don't like to talk on the phone. No, I just don't talk on the phone unless it's important. However, for her, she's still very much in the calling people up mode. It works for what she does: sales. Therefore, I get it. But, for me, I see no reason to make a phone call when all I have to say is something I can send to you by text or email.

If this graph is right, and it sure feels right, I'm stuck between "missing other culture" and "adaptation". I'm still much closer to "missing other culture" right now. I'll admit as much.

There is a new age. It's weird being back in a place where they've not caught up, so I've got to recallibrate. I think kids have. I see the shows where they lament the kid who sends text messages all the time or shake their heads over some kid setting a record for sending the quickest text message. I kind of understand those kids more than I want to admit.

Now I have to see how I can get back to using the phone as my primary means of communication.

Do I HAVE to?

Well, I had to adjust when I was abroad, so I'm going to have to readjust. I'm surprised that it's sort of difficult for me to do.

(no more to read, the "read more" is a code glitch that I, clearly, refuse to fix.)

Sphere: Related Content


  1. Sounds like you're adjusting pretty well! It's werid how we internalise the normal parts of a foreign culture and then just can't get our own! I had the opposite problem with phones 'cause I got used to a culture that says: call the person, say what you want, get it and say goodbye. No offense taken or given whereas back in Ireland you have to talk for 10 mins before you get to the point. Thank goodness for texting for those fast info-calls!

  2. Well, this difficulty adjusting, I think, has a lot to do with the fact that I'm simply frustrated with technology in the USA. People here are simply YEARS behind most. I mean the people working at Google, blogger, social media folks, coders, etc, maybe not. However, the average person? They've not a clue about how far behind the USA is compared to other places.

    I've resisted for months carrying my checkbook, but I HAVE to now because I've got rent to pay. I can't just do a bank transfer here like I can in Korea. I've got to write a check and either give it to the person to deposit or deposit it into their account. WTF? Is this the 1980s? Korea has covered that and then some!

    So I'm stuck knowing there are more efficient ways to do stuff but I live in a country among people who don't know or don't care and with industries who also seem not to get it. Sad.

  3. Excellent point Regina I am like we need to catch up as protesting Obama giving a speech in the school isn't helping our children who can not compete on a mathematical or scientific level but it's not just the children it's adults too.

    Nevertheless it is why I am going back to graduate school next spring to get my information systems degree as it is more important now than ever as the world moves away from industrialized to technology.

  4. Good luck with school. I honestly feel we're going to need to drag some people kicking and screaming into the tech age. It was quirky maybe in the 1990s to be a Luddite. now it's just fucking annoying.

  5. I am a Korean and I came to US 2 months ago. About the graph, I don't feel homesick but I just cannot help feeling sorry to return to the early 1990s. Especially, the health care system which is an absolute nonsense and the poor reception rate of the mobile phone are utterly depressive. I really miss my doctors back home(and their bills) and my TV-phone.

  6. Hey Sungsik!

    First, welcome to the USA! Actually, you're on the other end of the spectrum. I'd guess being 2 months in, you're between the honeymoon phase and culture shock.

    You're right about health care. I'm looking for work. I'm also taking a stab at freelance work. I'll probably also be doing some contract work. None of those scenarios, however, provide health insurance.

    I miss my doctor. I miss having good cell phone reception. I miss my TV phone too. Well, actually, the phone is here with me, I miss having a working TV phone ;)

    I hope your adjustment won't be too bad, but, yeah, I miss being in a country that gets it when it comes to both technology and health care. The USA doesn't - we're too busy doing the "democracy" dog and pony show, which isn't democracy at all. It's loud mouth pundits and well-paid lobbyists hijacking the conversation and that sucks.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.