I’m inventing a new term and assigning it to me: techno-luddite. I’m comfortable with old technologies (Blackberrys, books, low-end toasters) and tolerate some new (new iPad) but for the most part I’m wary of new things. It takes a long time for me to adapt and usually tech makes my life more confusing, not better. New technology is almost always annoying thanks to how in your face it is. Every year people beep, boop, and walk into you on the street. I like tech that’s subtle: a hidden Bluetooth speaker here, an air purifier behind the couch. We don’t all need the visual equivalent of putting our cell phones on the conference table. I wonder if this is culture or age or geographical bias. Old people hate technology—that makes sense. We Asians love technology because we love gadgets—that makes sense. People under 23 grew up with smartphones so for them it’s totally normal to text all day long, a thing that would get me beaten up in my hometown. But in HK I go to dinner and marvel at four people ignoring each other and checking Facebook. Isn’t that weird? You made a plan to sit with these people but you’re ignoring them. But at the same time… that’s me now. I’m always on my phone at dinner. As soon as I lose interest in what you’re saying I’ll pretend I have work and check my phone. It’s a habit from my time in banking when I actually did have work. Now it’s a habit when I’m not sufficiently stimulated. And it’s awful and I’m sure I won’t stop because you won’t stop and I don’t want to be that guy staring at you staring at your screen. There’s a lot of good writing on the rise of media, information, and the atomization of self. One of the first I read and still one of my favorites is Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone,” a book written in 2000 on the collapse of community due to the breakdown of our social bonds. Putnam argues that as we become more disconnected from strong social bonds like family, church, social clubs, etc., our stock in social capital—“the very fabric of our connections with each other”—plummets. Social media is social but not really SOCIAL. It pulls us apart since immediate access to broad superficial content keeps our real relationships superficial: why talk to the person across from you when I can look at all the pictures of the last All I Do Is Party weekend with models? And in doing so I’m saying two things: 1) I wish I was at the party. And 2) I wish I wasn’t here with you. Most people I talk to agree that we should be engaged in our physical lives instead of the virtual, but few live it. I’ve never met someone who says the best part about going to a concert is filming the whole thing on your smartphone, but if you go to a concert that’s what everybody does. It’s like people have two selves: a digital one and a fleshy one, and the two aren’t supposed to connect. Here’s an experiment—when you run into an acquaintance, ask them a question informed by something you read on their Facebook wall. Normally they’ll stammer, get weird, and look at you like you’re an insane stalker. But they decided to post it up there and have people look at it. Bringing it into the “real” world is way too much for most people to handle. I don’t have a broad overarching point here. I don’t know if there are any takeaways besides using technology as a tool instead of being consumed by it. I’ll loathe the day Google Glass comes out, but I will probably be the first to own a pair. You can’t stop the technology train even if you want to—and perhaps you don’t. Yalun Tu is a columnist for HK Magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com or @yaluntu on Twitter.