I think I'm turning Japanese I really think so
January 29, 2002 6:43 AM   Subscribe

I think I'm turning Japanese I really think so Someday, the cell phone will be the only contraption I use. (Hopefully in this century.)
posted by Voyageman (30 comments total)
The array of faceplates, flashing antennas, and other cell phone accessories on display at CES was truly amazing/inspiring.
posted by rushmc at 6:49 AM on January 29, 2002

See that kid? Yeah, that one, the one with the book. That's me. Unless you can produce me a widget that I can stick in my ear that gives me direct root access to your whole blessed paradigm, I'm gonna make you listen to that song again, and again, and again, and...
posted by roboto at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2002

That's one of my favorite songs about masturbation.
posted by NortonDC at 7:16 AM on January 29, 2002

Singing about masturbation is like dancing about architecture.
posted by luser at 7:37 AM on January 29, 2002

(apologies to Laurie Anderson)
posted by luser at 7:37 AM on January 29, 2002

Last April, William Gibson talked about Japanese schoolgirls who use the texting features of their mobile phones in this article about Japan's view of technology and the future.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 7:45 AM on January 29, 2002

Sorry, Voyageman and fellow posters, just couldn't resist...[Warning: funny music; via Memepool]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:52 AM on January 29, 2002

Ya know, I misread "contraceptive" for "contraption" in the first glance at the posting. Just thought I'd mention it.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:49 AM on January 29, 2002

Well, kaibutsu, there's a reason for that... (*whispers excitedly in his ear*)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:15 AM on January 29, 2002


*sprays Miguel with hose*

Get off my lawn!
posted by dong_resin at 9:37 AM on January 29, 2002

Someday, the cell phone will be the only contraption I use

Just stop using it while driving your car...that's all I ask.
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:08 AM on January 29, 2002

CrunchyFrog, thanks for the link to the Gibson essay--it's quite good. I especially appreciated his awareness of the affinity between England and Japan. This is something I've detected myself; wonder if it has something to do with both being island nations...
posted by mr_roboto at 10:17 AM on January 29, 2002

I think that I once read that Gibson article in Wired magazine, in their recent "Japan Rocks!" issue. I just read "All Tomorrow's Parties" and it was interesting to see the parallels between the book and some of the things mentioned in the article. Especially the parts about the death of geography and the obsessive collection and categorization of certain things. Very interesting. As for cell phone being the only contraption you use, they will be. When you move to Japan.
posted by donkeymon at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2002

AAAck! Cell Phones drive me nuts. Just what the hell is so important that everyone can't wait till they get home, or at least till they get out of the car? I'm tired of people blocking the aisle at the stop & shop, cell phone to their ear saying "Did you want chunky or creamy, honey?" I'm tired of people having long, detailed marital spats over their cell phones in the middle of McDonald's at lunch.
And those handsfree ones are even wierder. The other day outside the local bookstore, 3 people were talking on them at once wandering around in circles. If I hadn't looked closely I would've thought it was feild trip day at the asylum.
Just hang up and drive everyone.
(end rant)

OK, I needed that. Carry on.
posted by jonmc at 4:19 PM on January 29, 2002

jon, some people's lifestyles don't really work like that. if i waited til i got home before using a phone, i would never use the phone. no one would ever be able to track me down. i spend about 2 waking hours in my apartment each day.

also, i don't drive. i walk everywhere and take public transportation. so when i'm using my cell phone on the subway, i'm not a danger to anyone. and no one can hear me talking, because the train is too loud. instant public privacy.

and sometimes, i just can't remember whether it's chunky or creamy, and i'm way too lazy to make another trip.

i will grant you, however, that while a mobile phone fits my life well, other people fit their life to the phone. there is no reason you absolutely have to talk while driving.
posted by syn at 5:02 PM on January 29, 2002

jonmc: I make your rant mine. I well know cellphones allowed me to talk to you Mefis - and I'm grateful - but I agree with you and Umberto Eco(not every day you get these two luminaries together!). Cellphones are for slaves. To be available wherever you are is a sign of serfdom. Or atrocious solitude.

One thing which has always puzzled me is the way Americans, whatever they're doing(making love, sleeping, writing)always pick up the phone or at least have the volume up on their answering machine. Or is it just in the movies?

In Europe people pull out the plug when they don't want to be disturbed. Which is generally always.
And if you forget to do this, whoever answers - only because they're afraid it might be something urgent - can get away with saying "He can't come to the phone right now - he's having lunch/reading/resting". And everyone understands.

Cellphones should be reserved for emergencies only!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:31 PM on January 29, 2002

Testify, Brother Miguel, Testify!!
posted by jonmc at 5:43 PM on January 29, 2002

Cellphones are for slaves.

Only if you allow yourself to be conditioned to respond to them. They can be very handy tools when you keep them in their place.

And I, too, have never understood the compulsion to answer a ringing phone. How fascinating that you identify it as an American phenomenon! I NEVER answer a phone. Not since technology empowered me not to have to.
posted by rushmc at 5:56 PM on January 29, 2002

I don't understand what the difference is between talking on a cell phone and just talking to someone who happens to be present. What's the difference between someone asking his wife at the supermarket Chunky or Creamy if his wife is standing right there, and calling her up? At least it's only one person blocking the aisle rather than two. Would you prefer both members of the couple come down to McDonalds for their marital spat? Wouldn't that be twice as loud and possibly violent?

If you're a slave to everyone who calls you, or if you have to rely on hiding from people to be independent, then it doesn't matter if you had a phone or not, because you're already a slave.

Having said that, I also think people who drive while talking on their cellphones should be penalized, simply because it is unsafe. They should at least use hands-free units, wait until they reach their destinations, or at least park to talk.
posted by Poagao at 7:10 PM on January 29, 2002

The technologies described in the article are as prevalent in Korea, if not more so, than Japan. True ubiquity of wireless access, on full colour teeny tiny TFT screens.

I used a cellphone in Australia, and it was invaluable when you're in a fast-paced business. Here in Korea, I don't bother, and I tend to agree with Miguel, rather than Poagao. Particularly when one is in a more relaxed form employment, things that people need to say to me that are so desperate they can't wait for a few hours come very rarely indeed.

This touches on the whole inexplicable cell-phone users as elitist pigs meme in North America, I know. The places I've lived for the last 6 years or so, Australia and Korea, have never developed that. They're just everyday tech tools, and not freighted with much social significance (although the technology certainly does have a culturally transformative element).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:27 PM on January 29, 2002

Poagao - the difference is that they are polluting my enviornment with their personal bullshit. Some people, when talking on a phone automatically assume that they are in private. I remember, about 8 years ago back in my bookstore days, my section was about 10 feet from the store payphone. One fairly busy saturday, this woman had a very, emotional, explicit and loud spat with her boyfreind. The five or so shoppers in the aisle and I all stood there involuntarily transfixed. When she finally slammed the phone down and stormed out, we all grabbed volumes off the shelf and began "reading" intently.
Now, isolated incidents like that one are amusing, but with the proliferation of cell phones this sort of thing has become ubiquitous, making an already absurd world that much more so.
And another thing, working in retail sales, I can't count the number of times I've had my shpeil interrupted by some bozo's broker or mistress or dog groomer ringing him up on his cell, yet without fail they always answer. Is this really necessary or are they just trying to impress me with what "busy people" they are?
Convienice is great and all, but it's undeniable that cell phones are yanking our signal to noise ratio yet further in the wrong direction.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on January 29, 2002

TIME OUT - Interesting how almost everyone in this thread identifies the phone as an instrument for voice calls, for ringing tones, making or answering voice-driven activities. Yet per the link in Japan "...the first thing that strikes a visitor to Japan now is that the number of people *looking* at their phones exceeds the number who are talking on them. Phones are to be seen flipped open and in use everywhere- on subways, while walking, in lines, while walking, in bars and restaurants.. " Personally, I use my phone when I travel short distances (a few blocks) or long distances (different countries) not for voice but for data: text messages, pushed weather alerts, pushed traffic alerts, quick email checks . And I cant wait to point , shoot and send photos....Miguel- think how much fun you would have had receiving every ones photo on your phone last week!
posted by Voyageman at 8:20 PM on January 29, 2002

i have a cell phone but only turn it on when i want to make a call. no one ever calls me because i don't give anyone the number and 95% of the time it's not even on.
if you've ever run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, you know how handy a cell phone can be. it's not necessarily about people being able to get ahold of you.
posted by juv3nal at 8:53 PM on January 29, 2002

miguel, i'm an american and i don't know anyone who picks up the phone when they're doing anything important, whether it be making love or writing their book. i do, however, pick up the phone, if it's on, when i'm asleep, because i assume (correctly) that the people who call me are aware of and respect my sleep habits and really need me if they're waking me up. i don't know what strangers are calling you at ungodly hours, but don't give them my phone number.

"Cellphones are for slaves" seems a bit harsh of a generalization. i think you might be a bit irrationally prejudiced for some reason. The ability to be contacted anywhere is not the same as being available everywhere. The first is power, the second is slavery. They are very different. Along the lines of what rushmc said, and what i said before, cellphones can be a tool or a tether. And it is different for different people.

I personally enjoy only have a single point of telephone contact with others. I know that when i turn my mobile phone off, no one can reach me in any way.

jon - you didn't exactly respond to poagao's question. i mean, i understand what you're saying, and i can definitely visualize the situation, but what poagao is talking about, i think, is if the couple were both there in the supermarket. replace that woman's cellphone with her boyfriend, violence and all. wouldn't you're environment be just as polluted?

i think you're point, with which i happen to agree, is that people should probably keep their personal crap personal, regardless of whether it's on a mobile or not.

like voyagemen, i also think my mobile phone is super for all of it's non-voice capabilities. i get weather and news updates that fit in my pocket and i can read anywhere, anytime, as soon as they happen.
posted by syn at 9:10 PM on January 29, 2002

oops, forgot one more thing.
jon: perhaps the "bozo's" broker is somewhat more important to them than your retail sales shpeil. probably it has nothing to do with you at all. what reason would they care about impressing you?

what exactly is the right direction for signal to noise? and what do you consider signal and noise? was that just a throwaway cliche? i was always under the impression that communication and interaction with other humans was a good thing.
posted by syn at 9:20 PM on January 29, 2002

US carriers path to 3G Hope they deliver.
posted by Voyageman at 9:32 PM on January 29, 2002

I made sure to get a cell phone just a few days after I moved to Japan. Since there isn't the convenience of free local calls like in the United States, cell phones are a nice alternative. Plus I have one of the J-Phones with internet access and a built-in digital camera. Internet connections are hard to come by in Japan, but with email and text messaging, I can keep in touch with friends and family back across the Pacific. Since most people here don't drive and prefer to keep their cell phones on 'manner mode' during commutes, cell phone use is a lot less obnoxious. I only hope that American cell phones will be as cool in the future.
posted by Alison at 9:38 PM on January 29, 2002

syn- why would he want to impress me? some people have weak egos. Picking up his cell phone during my presentation is just rude, frankly. How would my customers feel if I bounded off in the middle of my shpeil to go look at a MeFi thread for instance? Just because I'm a lowly salesperson does not make me exempt from common courtesy. Checking your caller ID on the phone is permissible, I guess but some people answer no matter what. My girlfreind was teaching a course at the University of Miami and one of her students picked up her phone in the middle of a lecture and started yammering. This is what drives some of us nuts.
posted by jonmc at 9:31 AM on January 30, 2002

i definitely recognize the the lack of common courtesy, though i don't feel like mobile phones actually *cause* the problem. they happen to be an instrument through which the problem is displayed. i.e. don't blame the messenger. there are plenty, and i mean plenty, of those rude people who don't need a cell to be rude.

jon, as a salesperson, your *job* is to not bound off to talk on the phone. but, though it may be rude, the customers have no such obligation.

how do you know that "people answer no matter what?" perhaps they check the callerID and that particular call makes the cut? i think you're trying to make judgements about what/who other people consider important.

also, think about how many students talk to each other during class. this is also technically rude. why do we suddenly take notice when it's a mobile phone?

i think what annoys us is rude people. cell phones are not inherently evil. they just happen to be another way people can potentially be rude. but not all, probably not even most, people who use cell phones are inconsiderate. it's just that you only take notice of the rude ones.
posted by syn at 5:39 PM on January 30, 2002

Cell phones don't annoy people. People annoy people.
posted by Poagao at 7:11 PM on January 30, 2002

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