The ob­ses­sion with so­cial ‘ev­i­dence’

JoongAng Daily - - Views - YANG SUNG-HEE

Smart­phones are no longer just elec­tronic de­vices; rather, they have be­come a part of our bod­ies and our iden­ti­ties.

“U-Turn,” a web car­toon writ­ten by co­me­dian Yoo Sae-yoon, tack­les the sub­ject of smart­phone ad­dic­tion. It cen­ters on a se­cret so­ci­ety called UTurn, which is formed after peo­ple be­gin to suf­fer from “smart­phone panic dis­or­ders” and “Wi-Fi al­lergy,” caus­ing peo­ple to re­vert back to the days when smart­phones were nonex­is­tent.

Yoo is the story’s pro­tag­o­nist, and in each episode he in­cludes a hand­writ­ten note about our dig­i­tal cul­ture. For ex­am­ple, he once wrote two posts on two sep­a­rate so­cial me­dia sites — one about how happy he had been to play the character of a ba­boon, and another about his dis­like of another sub­ject. But the next day, on­line por­tals were filled with ar­ti­cles about how he dis­liked play­ing the ba­boon. And the con­clu­sion of his ex­per­i­ment was that peo­ple only wanted to read sen­sa­tional rants.

He also talked about his en­counter with some young men at a bar. When the fans asked him to take a pic­ture with them, Yoo said he was too drunk to pose for a photo and in­stead sug­gested hav­ing a drink to­gether. But the men de­clined, say­ing they’d rather have a photo than a drink.

Yoo later wrote, “I would have wished to be a part of their mem­ory rather than a record.”

It seemed that the young men thought it was more im­por­tant to have “proof” of their meet­ing with Yoo on so­cial me­dia rather than to have a con­ver­sa­tion with him.

Sim­i­larly, some peo­ple choose to take video and pho­tos at con­certs rather than en­joy them live. They be­lieve pro­ject­ing the im­age of hav­ing fun is more im­por­tant than the con­cert it­self, just like the young men who ran into Yoo. So­cial net­works are a vast ground to show off pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence. Even pho­tos and posts about every­day life are a care­ful se­lec­tion of what one feels is worth show­ing. Peo­ple are con­stantly con­scious of how oth­ers per­ceive them. Amer­i­can scholar Sonya Song ar­gues that the psy­cho­log­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion for shar­ing on so­cial me­dia is “charged with emo­tions, bounded by self­im­age man­age­ment and by con­cerns over re­la­tions with oth­ers.”

In fact, ev­ery so­cial me­dia user, in­clud­ing my­self, knows it very well. But we don’t — and can’t — leave the world of so­cial net­work­ing. There is so much “me” in the dig­i­tal world of smart­phones, tablets and dig­i­tal cam­eras, but we still feel pro­foundly lonely. We are be­ing “so­cial” with­out hav­ing true com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It re­minds me of an old song by A Poet and A Gov­er­nor, “There are too many me in me, so there is no place for you to rest.” The au­thor is a cul­ture and sports news ed­i­tor of

the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 18, Page 35

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.