TECHNO WORLD: Switching From An Asian To An American Phone Was Not A Smart Move    


By Dr. Sawraj Singh

I am not a techno. My knowledge about smart phones is very basic. I used to carry a very simple mobile phone. About two years ago my son convinced me to have a smart phone. He chose an Asus phone for me and told me that this can help me in many ways. This Android phone has many functions which can be useful for my life style. For example, I can use it for my hot mail (e mail), it can easily share the whatsapp with the email and vice versa, I can download I Granth for a quick reference and I can give internet to my computer by the hot spot. It took me about two years to become comfortable with all these functions.


This Asus phone was very reasonably priced. My daughter told me that time has come to move to bigger and better things. She gave me an Apple phone which costs many times more than the Asus phone. However, when I switched the phones I painfully realized that all the functions which I was using the most cannot be transferred to the new phone. Those features are possible in an Android phone and it is very difficult to transfer those to an Iphone. I felt that my routine and life style were very adversely affected.


Finally, I decided to keep my Asus phone and use it for the features which cannot be transferred to the new phone. Now, from a one phone person I have become a two phone person. Will this process end here or as more and more features added to the smart phones we will have to become multiple phone persons. We have all become victims of the western consumer culture. Whereas, the Asian phones are designed to perform multiple tasks and they can be easily upgraded, the American phones are mostly designed to function till a higher model comes. Moreover, whereas, the Asian phones can share their features with other phones, the American phones strictly want to maintain their monopoly.


Why is this difference? I feel that culture plays a big role in it. Sharing is an important aspect in many Asian cultures. Many Asian cultures also emphasize the collective perspective whereas, most of the western cultures, particularly the American consumer culture, promotes individualism. Sharing is not considered a virtue in consumerism. The question is that between collectivism and individualism which is a higher value? Similarly, between sharing and monopolizing which is a higher value?

I feel that many people will agree that collectivism and sharing represent higher values. Moreover, between extravagance and moderation, austerity is a higher value. Just because the American phones are much more expensive than the Asian phones does not necessarily mean that they are better. When it comes to the phones most of the people need work horses rather than prestige.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at [email protected].