communication (or the lack thereof)


This couple was sitting two tables away from me at Muse. There was another middle-aged Chinese couple sitting side by side to each other across from me doing exactly the same thing. This is an increasingly common sight in restaurants in Beijing.  I’ve often wondered, why suffer a traffic jam, wait an hour for a table at the restaurant and put up with bad waitstaff if you’re not going to even talk to the person you’re having dinner with? 

Smartphones and WeChat are to blame for the increasing number of failed marriages and relationships in China. How does a couple cultivate the important things in a long-term relationship while staring at their smartphone screens? 

I’ve once witnessed my Beijinger friend giving a blow-by-blow account to his friends on WeChat while climbing Jiankou, a treacherous part of the Great Wall. I was so busy climbing with my hands and feet, I almost forgot to take pictures, let alone provide live commentary!

I’m probably the least qualified person to diss smartphones, since I was the first in my family to use one. I now depend on my smartphone to tell the time, store contact information, shopping lists, notes, bank account information (including passwords, the horror), take pictures and beautify them, share photos and information to friends, buy anything under the sun I can dream of, pay bills, search for restaurants, cinemas, movies, bars…. I’ll never finish this post if I listed everything I did on my smartphone. And that is scary…

So despite my gripes about smartphones and WeChat, I know I can’t live without them…. anymore. For my last birthday party, it took me three days to decide if I was going to email or sms friends who weren’t on my WeChat/WhatsApp/Viber.  I added and kept in touch with all new friends I met over the Spring Festival holidays on WeChat. I found out which of my favourite restaurants are open over the holidays on their WeChat service accounts. Hell, the last boardgame I played was organised on a WeChat group. So much of my life is tied up with my smartphone, I compulsively check it even though it doesn’t ring. How sad is that!

Come to think of it, I would literally vanish from the face of the earth if I lost my smartphone. Literally.

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Ugh!

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