The beauty of living in analog style

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The beauty of living in analog style


My children have came home from the United States. It’s been two years since their last visit, and they are staying five nights because they have two weeks of vacation a year. I was obsessed that I had to make the visit the happiest time, and I stayed up all night the day before they arrived. I was working so hard to keep the “perfect” temperature. I had the heater on, and then off, and kept opening and closing the windows.

They are impatient, maybe because they grew up in sunny California. But it is not just the weather they are so picky about. It seems like there is “just the right way” for everything. To travel from Yaksu Station to Hongdae Station on the Seoul subway, they want to use the “fastest route” according to GPS navigation. They want to waste not a moment and have to follow the schedule all the time. In order to have consistent taste, they have to cook according to the recipe.

I tried to teach them how to make japchae, a popular Korean dish of sweet potato noodles stir- fried in sesame oil with vegetables and beef and flavored with soy sauce, but we ended up eating overcooked noodles. I said, “Put a little bit of soy sauce and stir fry until cooked.” They demanded to know how many spoonfuls and how long.

They need manuals for everything. It’s always “0” or “1,” and they live in a digital world. When you get cold in your sleep, you can wrap yourself in the comforter. You can choose the usual path, and if traffic is heavy, just enjoy the music for a while. If a dish is too salty, enjoy it with rice. If not, have it by itself. The digital daughters are not so pleased with the analog mom.

But the digital daughters are not always right. It is just easier to wear an extra layer instead of adjusting the room temperature. The navigation system can give you wrong directions from time to time. Sometimes, you have to cook without all the ingredients. You may have to make a call without having your mobile phone in hand.

But I live in analog style, and I am more flexible. I would put on another layer to keep warm or take off a sweater to cool down. I know my way without the navigation, and I don’t need to consult a recipe to cook. I know lyrics of my favorite songs, and I can call my friends without an address book.

Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States in late October, killing at least 120 people. The power and network outage left people without electricity and communication for days. They had nothing to read, watch or listen to, and they could not go outside. So families lit up candles, sat together and had real conversations. They had family time amid the natural disaster. The “analog experience in the digital age” has given many people a new way to look at life.

Many people prefer texting to calling. They don’t even want to talk. When I explain details, they demand to know the specific point. When I want to discuss news, people search the Internet right on the spot. Soon enough, we may be sitting face to face but not say a single word, simply exchanging text messages. Or that time may have already come.

The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Daily.

by Eom Eul-soon
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