Friday, September 22, 2006

Communication Failure

Of the major technological innovations introduced in Lianga, none has had a greater impact on the day to day lives of its people than the advent of modern mobile phone communications. The ubiquitous cell phone has become so much a fixture in our daily lives that to imagine ourselves without it is to think the unthinkable. Many people, who had managed to go for decades before without ever seeing a cell site tower much less imagine a phone that can fit in the palm your hand, which you can carry around you wherever you go and yet call to anywhere in the world, now feel naked and helpless without it.

It all boils down to the need for people to be able to freely communicate with other people and not be limited by actual physical contact or proximity. Filipinos, probably more than most other nationalities, are great communicators and will try anything that will keep them in contact with their loved ones and the cell phone has become the technological miracle that makes this possible.

And, by golly, you cannot only call but also sent text and multimedia messages, surf the Web, play electronic games, pay your bills, access banking services, do shopping and a lot more. In the future, we are told that the cell phone will be the all-purpose electronic genie that redefine the way man will live, work and play.

That may be what will happen indeed but one wonders whether in the rush to immerse ourselves in the wonders of the wireless, digital world we may be missing out something more tangible and more real.

I have seen families in Lianga gathered together in the living room after dinner watching TV or just hanging out in each other's company. A seemingly cozy picture of family togetherness until you look closely and see each of them furiously fiddling with their cell phones; each lost in their own electronic universe and totally ignoring each other's presence.

And what about families and friends who communicate more through their phones rather than spend time to actually and physically touch base and renew relationships by actually communicating in the real, non-virtual and old fashioned, traditional sense?

Real human relationships may need more than easy access to instant digital communication in order to survive and flourish. And time spent to get actually in touch with others may not be precious time wasted but time wisely spent.

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