A few months back, my parents proudly told me through Skype that they just switched to a newer, more classy smartphone that everyone’s using nowadays. My first response was, “Oh really? Wow. Cool. Nice.” That sounds pretty normal. But deep inside my gut an uneasy feeling kicked in–a realization that sounded pretty much like “Finally that moment comes.”
No, I’m not against the idea of their modernization. I mean, I’m using a smartphone, too, so that’s not a logical reason. I was actually really happy to discover that they’re keeping up with the learning curves of the new technologies and finding themselves enjoying their new toys really soon. I’m just worried about two things: one, their new smartphones are among the “new family members” after their old phones (which they still find pretty handy to keep in touch with their old chaps) as well as an iPad—that’s a lot to take care of. Two, these new digital siblings of mine are starting to steal their precious attention that I expect from anyone during a proper face-to-face interaction, which unfortunately is quite the case for me, too. The fact that I don’t meet my parents really often as I’m pursuing my undergraduate degree overseas just makes things worse.
Whether we like it or not, smartphones have changed the way we communicate. With such an advancement in technology, smartphones should aid in our communication, making it even better. Nonetheless, I find it pretty ironic that things that are meant to connect us often become things that hinder us from interacting when the opportunity comes. And this is particularly true for smartphones: it really connects me and my parents when we are far from each other (i.e. when my parents are back home and I’m in Singapore) but disrupts our bonding time when we get to meet each other face-to-face, since we keep checking our phones every so often. When it’s not checking the phones, there’s this constant virtual nagging to update their statuses online about what they (or we) did during the day. And I find it disruptive. Where are those eye-watering, heart-melting moments when you look deep into each other’s eyes and try to read each other’s expressions (no, seriously, that’s so scarce nowadays, if you think about it)? Where would those supposedly enjoyable conversations go if you keep reading sentences off your phone’s browser? And do we really need to capture every single moment with our phone and post it online? Do we really need those buzzes telling you about your messages when you are spending your precious time with your beloved ones?
With graduation getting nearer and the working world’s craziness waiting behind the door, there’s less and less time I can find to spend my time with them. And yet, technology seems to be at work too, telling all the white lies about productivity at the expense of my relationships. Oh yes, in case you’re wondering, I wrote this next to my parents sleeping, on our last night together before they flew back home the following day. Irony at its best?