My mom once told me that her cellphone was a shackle. It’s true. While modern technology has made telecommunications more convenient than ever before, it has dramatically widened the scope of social obligations. There are other aspects of modern life that we are bound to as well. We are often pressured to binge watch TV or watch movies on opening nights in fear of running into spoilers thanks to the internet. Then there are ceaseless torrents of content from social media to consume. It’s exhausting to live in the modern society.
Getting back to the telephone example, my mom did not take messages until two years ago. She grew up in an age in which if you missed a call, you missed a call. If it were important, the caller would try again. Once, my mom was like Esther in her delightful write up about owning an ancient telephone. Now my mom feels obligated to respond to every call and message because modern phones log every call and message, meaning that it’s not something that can be ignored or hidden. Things got worse when she downloaded a messaging app to chat with her friends and her bible study group. The messaging app pretty much let anyone send her messages as long as they had her number or knew her through a mutual friend, so it multiplied her social circle and the response obligation by severalfold instantly. There’s nothing she can do about it now. Once she stepped into the world of social media and messaging apps, it became near impossible for her to leave that circle unless she was willing to miss out on all the happenings. Some of you must feel the same way too about the modern society. I do wish things could be simpler sometimes, but that would be hypocritical of me because I’m the asshole friend who always demands RSPVs for social gatherings and instant text replies from my friends.