Being in Peru for four years has given us a fresh perspective on what is going on in the United States. If one watches a tree grow by staring at it everyday, one does not witness any growth. But if you come back in four years, you can see considerable change. That’s what we feel like with America.
So here are a few changes we have noticed. Since I don’t like long posts, I’ll divide them up in several installments. The first two are technological changes:
- Texting. I knew I was out of practice driving. When I hit the US roads, I thought I had picked up bad habits in Peru. It wasn’t until I notice that every other driver was texting: hence the slow drift into my lane. Incredible, Americans are driving more like Peruvians! Another reality I discovered was how texting is taking a more central role of communication. While living in Peru, I never texted. It felt overly laborious to thumb numerals two or three times to communicate three words on my old cell phone. However, during my first months in Memphis, I noticed another novelty: many people would not return my phone calls. I tried leaving them multiple messages, emailing them, facebooking them to no avail. Then I realized that I had not tried to text them. This time texting would be easier on my handy-dandy iPhone. So within seconds — wallah — they responded. Amazing, I had access again!
- The Ubiquitous Smartphone. Along with texting, another technological development is the ubiquity of the cell phone, especially smartphones. Back in 2008 I noticed everyone was talking on the phone. Now, I noticed that everyone everywhere is looking at their phone. I can see the logic of checking mail, twitter, or facebook while standing in line at the store. But what was new for me to see so many glaring at their phone at social gatherings, parties, and even during Sunday worship. It only took me three months to fall into this bad habit. When I felt the tiniest-bit of boredom, I would whip out my iPhone just as fast as Luke’s light saber. I had to see what was going on in Twitter world! I suspect Peru will follow suit in a few years.
Stay tuned for some more observations….