Handphones Can Diminish Our Responsibility

I invited a friend to join me on an evening jog. I confirmed with him the time we were supposed to meet, and warned him that I would not be bringing my handphone — no last minute changes this time. He expressed surprise at my last statement, which I duly reciprocated.

“Who the heck goes out without a handphone?” he asks.

“Who the heck goes jogging with a bloody handphone? Don’t tell me you’re going to jog with a handphone?” I counter.

Come to think of it, going out without a handphone nowadays does seem strange. The handphone is like an extension of the body, the one that connects you with the rest of the world. Going out without a handphone is like going out without your house-keys, knowing full well you’ll need them when you return in the middle of the night.

Diminishing responsibility

I find that the handphone has dimished responsibility somewhat. No longer is one confirmed to be meeting you; last minute changes can easily be made as you can be reached anywhere, anytime.

I remember an incident when together with a friend, I waited for another friend to arrive. We had met to have lunch together. On that day, I had forgotten to bring my handphone. We waited, and waited, and waited. After half an hour, he was still nowhere to be seen.

We found out later he had sent me a text, saying he would be having lunch at home. Now, think about that. If I didn’t have a handphone, and he didn’t have a handphone, would that have happened? You might argue that he would have called me instead, on my house-phone perhaps. But note that the text was sent rather late; it was a last-minute decision.

His not calling me, but instead texting me also seemed to me a refusal of accepting responsibility. The text contained a question: “Would it be alright if I ate at home?”, which I didn’t, and couldn’t, reply to. He probably guessed I would have put up much more of a fight had he called.

Responsibility is diminished. Nowadays, you can afford to be late as a handphone allows you to inform the other party you’ll be late — after which you might still take your own sweet time, as you’ve already said you’d be late. Without a handphone, you’d rush to your destination as quickly as possible.

Somehow, as a handphone user, being late doesn’t seem as rude if you’ve told the other party you’ll be late. As if the magic “I’ll be 30 mins late” when the other party has reached makes it much better.

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