It doesn’t take much to distract me these days. *ping*…another message on WhatsApp. *bleep* another request from a child on messenger. *ding ding* another notification on one of my bazillion Viber groups.
The world we live in is uber connected and increasingly noisy and demanding of our attention. Whether it’s your phone, your iPad, your laptop, your watch, your wallet, there’s almost always something pinging away pulling your attention from whatever it is you’re trying to do. My world has become SO much noisier since the pandemic forced us all online for everything, and even more so since I moved to Manila.
On the one hand there is so much inefficiency and old fashioned administration here. Paperwork in triplicate signed by 75 people for the simplest things, long lines and manual processes for the smallest of tasks, and receipts a foot long for everything. Everyone gets a job which means it could take 3 people to help you purchase a bottle of water: one to zap the barcode on the bottle, one to bag the bottle and attach the receipt, and one to check the receipt. But on the other hand, you can order and pay for a customised cake via a bakery 10 kilometres away and have it arrive on the back of a motorbike with a bunch of flowers from a florist 5 km away, all via one app, in a matter of hours. EVERYTHING is done via Viber or WhatsApp. Shopping, school parent groups, medical appointments, social catchups, embassy groups, emergency alerts, driver comms, the list goes on. And the Filipinos are one of the biggest TikTokking nations in the world and are obsessed with photographing and IGing everything. This country operates entirely on the phone and wifi network. Noone, not even the very poor, is without a phone. In fact I’ve witnessed first hand some communities where food is almost a luxury, and yet there is always a mobile that is connected. Continue reading