HK Magazine Archive

Out of Touch: Is Hong Kong Ditching Talk for Tech?

How are we connecting in 21st century Hong Kong?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 4:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:25pm

Technology marches on and suddenly the ways we talk, reach out and date have all changed. Is it the beginning of the end, or is Hong Kong simply leading the way when it comes to the future of human relationships?

The Support Network

Commonly spotted on the MTR, this configuration appears to be a couple locked in a tight embrace, until you realize that they are actually looking over each other’s shoulders at their smart devices instead.

Cons: Even the act of embracing is given distance by the effects of technology. We’re left touching, but not really feeling.

Pros: Physical contact is one of the most important elements of any relationship, and to be able to cuddle up together as you catch up on the news of the day is the optimum way to share your life with another human being. Also, resting your smartphone arm on someone else is a great way to keep it from getting tired.

Swipe Nation

The Hong Kong dating scene seems to be at the mercy of a select few dating apps. We’re living our love lives through the filter of a few profile photos and an unthinking swipe left or right.

Cons: Narrows the dating pool, makes us inherently more superficial in whom we choose, lays us open to short-term relationships over long-term commitment.

Pros: Quite a fun way to pass the time when you’re waiting for someone at a bar. That’s about it.

Read More: Top 8 Hong Kong Date Ideas to Woo the Object of Your Affections
Read More: How to Get Ditched: Hong Kong Dates from Hell

The What’s Up Thread

Deep and meaningful conversations have been pared back in the internet age. We’re no longer calling each other for long soul-searching chats at night: Instead our messaging is more laconic.

Cons: No one takes the time to talk anymore.

Pros: Emojis can, in fact, do a pretty good job of clearly signifying our emotions, and can enable us to express our feelings in ways we wouldn’t dare to vocalize.

Read More: The HK Magazine Emoji Dictionary

The Dinner Data

A couple out for a meal who appear to be ignoring each other entirely, instead staring at their phones. We’ve all seen it. Hell, we’ve all done it. Right, guys?

Cons: Despite clearing your calendar to spend your time with another human being, it appears that the internet has more to amuse you than a meal with someone you presumably care about.

Pros: Quality time spent together is an important aspect of any relationship. In many ways, to be able to sit in comfortable silence is more important than any conversation. 

Also, the advent of the phone camera and Instagram means that you’re sharing your relationship with so much more than just the person you’re sitting opposite: you’re sharing it with your entire social ecosystem!

Read More: The #MoneyShot: Hong Kong's Most Instagrammable Eats
Read More: Destination Instagram: In Pursuit of the Perfect Shot

Pokér Players

You’ve seen these couples out and about, wandering the streets seemingly going for a stroll—until you realize that their faces are lit by that distinctive blue-green hue that means they’re actually playing Pokémon Go.

Cons: Walking while staring at your phone doesn’t exactly promote human interaction. 

Pros: You can hold hands while doing it. And like they say: “The couple that catches a Pikachu together, stays together.”

Read More: Large Groups of Pokémon Trainers Appear Across Hong Kong
Read More: Pokémon GO Launches, Productivity and Nintendo Shares Plummet

Techno Panic!

The first genuinely popular smartphone—the Apple iPhone—was released in 2007. In a few short years, smartphones have become integrated into society in ways few had dreamed. But if there’s one thing more annoying than the ubiquity of smartphones, it’s the ubiquity of the moral panics about smartphones…

Phone Violence
After 20-year-old Justin Valdez was shot dead on a San Francisco train in 2013, the media decided that people on public transport were too consumed by their phones to notice a maniac waving a gun. If someone walked onto the MTR waving a meat cleaver, would we notice? Well… yes.

Screen Junkies
A screamy, dramatic article in the New York Post recently claimed that tablets, smartphones and anything else with a screen are, variously, “electronic cocaine” or “digital heroin.” “That’s right,” the article breathlessly declares, “your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs.” We’ll have some of what they’re having...

Read More: Time Hopping: Revisiting Hong Kong's Old School Games

This is the name given to the onset of anxiety stemming from being separated from your mobile device—but doctors can’t decide if it’s actually a thing. It’s probably just another nonspecific anxiety disorder—that is, if you get stressed about not having your phone on you, you’re likely prone to all other sorts of anxiety too. Bottom line? Your phone’s not to blame.

Touch Me, Quick
Modern media seems to regard smartphones like Frodo did the ring: when you’re separated from your Precious you get nomophobia; if you get it back, you can’t stop playing with it. US research firm Dscout released a report this year stating that on average, we touch our phones 2,617 times per day. That’s more than we touch our faces, an average of 384 times a day. Eeeewwww, faces!

Period Drama

“I’m fine.” Before the advent of instant messaging, this phrase might have meant just what it said. But now in the era of textspeak and the emoji? It’s a statement redolent with emotion. It says, “I’m pretty damned far from fine, actually, and it’s probably your fault.” Now that we so seldom end our messages with them, the full stop has taken on a symbolic finality.

By way of an experiment, throw a full stop on the end of your next message to your dearly beloved. 

Our bet is that you’ll get a concerned “is everything OK?” in response. If not... maybe it’s time to find a new significant other.

Hong Kong’s Weird Internet Communities

HKGolden Forums
The wellspring of all of Hong Kong’s memes and 90 percent of its youth identity, HKGolden serves us silliness with a side of social activism. 

Hong Kong Moms
Facebook group that is equal parts excellent tips for Hong Kong life... and unthinking prejudice against domestic workers. Must be seen to be believed.

Read More: Why are the Streets of Hong Kong Full of Young Kids in Matching T-shirts?

The ultimate MK Jai forum. Ever felt the need to talk Korean fashion and hair dye (for guys)? You’ve found your people.

[University] Secrets
Every university in Hong Kong has its own “Secrets” Facebook page, in which students bitch anonymously about all aspects of college life.