Culture & Phones

Handphone
Indian Torch

Trapped on our little island of Singapore, we hardly wonder what our handphones are capable of; here in Singapore we typically use it to text, call, surf, as a phone book to retrieve contact details of people, a personal organizer and even a camera. Singaporeans makes extensive use of their phones and our preferences are varied, a reflection of our melting pot of diversity. And as the briefing in the latest issue of The Economist shows, mobile phones are indeed a great reflection of the culture of the people using them.

The article mentioned a couple of interesting quirks about people using mobile phones around the world:

Japanese use their phones to text and surf intensively because using phones to make or receive calls on board trains and some other public places are thought to be extremely rude.

Spaniards reject voicemail because they think it’s rude not to receive calls from others when they call, even when the receiver is busy with matters.

Chinese will interrupt conversations to receive calls because they are afraid to that they’d miss a business deal; at the same time they use knock-offs handphones that often have extensive functions, even capable of using two SIM cards.

Americans are willing to endure limited cellular coverage; perhaps fearing the hassle involved in changing operators.

Italians, Greeks and Finns would switch operators if they find their coverage limited and yet are fearful of the effects of electro-magnetic radiation, which probably is more ubiquitous than in America.

Indians use mobile phones as torchlights.

Africans usually use ‘beeping’ (ie. give the person a ring) to contact people and signal them to call back when they’re low on pre-paid credits.

Indeed, mobile phones are changing everyone’s lives everywhere; one just needs to know the name given to these devices in different societies and cultures to understand their importance. In fact, Iraqis thought more highly of the proliferation of mobile phones as a result of the American invasion than their supposed liberation.

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