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BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Hayden Duke | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Patricia Price | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Brooke Winn |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


January 6, 2016

The End of Real Conversations…..

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I love to watch the river travel by. I notice the small whirl pools, the flow of the currents and the deep brown turbidity.

 

I know that during the full moon the river will rise and during the time of the new moon the river will fall well below normal. The small sampans, fishing boats and barges sail by, and I know they are going no further than the small bay where the water from the mountains meet the incoming tidal flow.

 

On the opposite bank, I can see the cars slowly crossing the small bridge, motor bikes with their pinion riders travelling to a shop to purchase fish, or just out for ride. The sun washes my eyes with the colors of the houses from purple, red, light blue, light green and yellow. Some houses desperately need some paint. Two mosques, both green, call their prayer five times a day.

 

I can see houses that were once there, long reclaimed by the jungle but researched, in my mind’s eye, as they were about a hundred years ago. The white fort, the istanna (palace) and the wavy DUN (parliament building) are the three structures that stand out on the opposite side of the river. For an hour or so, I can watch all of these happen from the view from my flat, or a short walk down the boardwalk that runs along the river. I have watched the same view for seven years now and it never grows old, just changes with the two seasons (wet and dry).

 

My wife and I decided to update our phones. Why I am not sure, something about Whats APP and being able to get free calls through them. My old phone was an ancient flip open type that rang on incoming calls, and I was able to dial out to anywhere in the world. I didn't receive many calls, but that was okay by me. I didn't want to talk to anyone anyway. I am by no means anti-social, but prefer to talk to a person face to face occasionally rather than talk into the thing without a place to talk into.

 

My new phone is like having a smaller version of my iPad, except I can call someone. It can connect to the Internet from anywhere. It tells me the current time, temperature (31) and that it's cloudy outside. Well, it's actually sunny, but should I believe my eyes or the phone? It also has a place for messages (which I don't get anyway and prefer not to send them) as well as a way to get Google. When it does ring, I fiddle with it until it stops and then I have to hand it to my wife to call back whoever called. I just can't seem to master the thing.

 

It also has a camera. I guess I am supposed to take a picture and somehow get it to Facebook where I post the few pictures that I want to share. I have been looking at Netflix, mainly because my daughter told me Facebook was "out" and Netflix was "in." By the time I learn that they will be lowering me into the grave something else will be "in."

 

That is me with my new phone, but I know I am in the minority. My wife uses hers all the time. I have gotten to the point where I interrupt her texting to have a talk. In my mind it's rude, but it is the only way I can talk to her. She talks to me, but one eye is on the screen.

 

I walk down the boardwalk and see two people sitting side-by-side texting. Across the river is one of the most insane views they will see in all of Asia – and they text. I wonder if they are talking to each other. While on a Malaysian date, quite obvious from a Western point of view as there is a single girl with them, and both are texting. People walk and text at the same time.

 

I have purposefully walked into the path of someone texting and they automatically walk around me. I have glanced at what people text and, to my surprise, well not really, most of them are playing games. Some are looking at Facebook or Netflix, while others, I guess, are engaged in a conversation of sorts. But I think most are playing games or checking a Facebook-type of app. And the wonders of the world just pass them by.

 

We used to have a saying "in the moment." I guess their moment will always be games and a Facebook-type app. Gosh, I feel so sorry for them.

 

...Life is good. . . . .

 



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