I like café latte. Especially, iced one in the weather like these days. However, we all go through dark times in life. This is a story about my spiritual childhood when I only drank milk and hadn’t found latte. From the perspective of human history, it is about the early days of modern social media. We used to have a technology called “PC communication,” which literally means engaging in communication with personal computers. In the 1990s, the technology opened a completely new world.
#1. The “modem” was the core innovative technology serving as the backbone of PC communication. It was a gateway for every “ultra maniac” in a small bedroom at each home across the country to access the virtual world. Once connected to the phone line, the modem started to operate. With the crude and irritating connection sound of beeps, I felt excitement. I became “Neo” of “The Matrix,” being sucked into another world.
#2. As I was recently talking with the members of indie band “Julia Hart,” we ended up discussing PC communication – a HiTEL modern rock sub-group to be precise. As you can tell by the title, there was an upper-level group, a HiTEL metal group. It now makes me dizzy to think that a modern rock group was a sub-group of a metal group. Regardless of whether it was their intention or not, however, the modern rock group had planned for the future.
#3. Unlike its humble title, the modern rock group had become a quiet terrorist group in the South Korean rock scene. It completely changed South Korean underground rock bands who used to mainly produce heavy metal and hard rock albums, or if not popular enough to make albums, often copied the songs of famous foreign bands. Lee Seok-won who was a member of the group and didn’t play any musical instrument came up with a fake band name, “Onnine Ibalgwan,” as he didn’t want to be the only one not playing in a band. Later, he indeed created a band with the same name to make up for his lie, becoming the legend in the South Korean indie rock scene.
#4. As illustrated above, the modem changed the direction of human development. Then, what is it exactly? In technical terms, it is a device that converts a direct current digital signal into an alternating current analog signal for the phone line and vice versa. However, those in small bedrooms didn’t have to know about this. What was clear is that when the modem is connected the phone line becomes busy and you may get scolded by your parents in a master bedroom if you use the modem for too long. That’s all they had to remember.
#5. Looking back, we now know that Nostradamus was wrong and the year 1999 passed. Twenty years later, we are now facing a new threat of COVID-19. The unprecedented level of social distancing has made the world quieter. Meanwhile, online concerts are becoming popular. Instead of setting up a stage, musicians now sit in front of a mic with an instrument in their arms. I felt strange watching a relay online concert of singers a few days ago.
#6. Now, we don’t need the outdated modem anymore. We don’t have to worry about our parents either. Some of the members of the modern rock sub-group have taken a master bedroom themselves or even become householders. On the other hand, technology development has also caused the evolvement of crimes with unimaginable cybersex crimes and scams rampant in every corner. However, a brighter world in which one can express things he or she likes has been also created. We spend our days with the flood of “subscribe,” “like,” and comments. Days where we desperately sought anything to read passed as hundreds of millions of terabytes of data are created daily in the cyberspace.
#7. Whenever I am in the subway, I see people with the same posture, their heads tilted forward about 30 degrees to look at their mobile screen. Even when the subway crosses the Han River, they do not look up, which makes me feel a bit melancholy. I still hope sincerely that their individual screen is filled with beautiful things. Latte tastes as sweet as always today.