Friday, October 08, 2004

Reach out and touch someone???

cape town, south africa

If you want to see a South African cry… take away her mobile phone. These people are seriously obsessed. This country lives and dies by SMS. Go to a restaurant and watch people sitting down for dinner… I remember learning that the soup spoon goes on the right and the salad fork to the left of the dinner plate but no one ever told me where to put my cell (apparently formal dining requires the mobile phone to be placed next to the bread plate). I do a lot of my school work in a computer lab in the library and if I close my eyes and just listen, it’s easy to feel like I’m back in Vegas… Hey! Some guy next to me just one the progressive jackpot! Nope, it was just his girlfriend calling with an SMS smiley. I suppose it makes sense for everyone to have a cell in a country where the telephone system is sketchy at best and I can even understand why SMS is so popular as regular airtime is charged by the millisecond… but come on people, sometimes you just need to unplug! When I go out for diner with someone at home it just seems natural to turn off my phone… or not even bring it (I can hear the collective gasps of everyone I’ve met in South Africa). I was at a movie last week with some local friends I’ve met here and it wasn’t more than a minute after we left the theatre that I noticed everyone was unusually silent. When I turned around, all four of them were madly plunking away at their phones. I was suddenly struck with the old analogy of a million monkeys at a million typewriters… I just had to laugh.

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