Can we all slow down?
  • By Brian Webb | dtinews.vn | April 03, 2014 10:38 AM

Picture this: a family of three on a motorbike driving down the road, the driver, probably the father, has one hand on the handlebars and the other on his phone, his head looking down.

There is almost a collision, but it was just a near miss. Then everything goes on as usual.

 A Vietnamese young man texting while driving on a crowded local street. Photo by TP

I don't understand texting while driving. I asked you to picture that scene, but anyone who lives in Hanoi would not have to imagine it. It could probably be pulled from one of today's memories.

The whole thing makes me wonder what these people are texting. Some news is very important, but I suspect the texts are a bit more frivolous than "Your mother needs to be taken to the hospital immediately." Yet, that's the only message I could imagine one to endanger his family over.

Don't worry, this is no lecture. And there is no intention of giving depressing statistics or anything like that. It just baffles me. In the morning people are going so fast down the street, each one to their own destination, wherever that may be. Is everybody late every morning?

Doubt that too.

I have a feeling that it is more of a rush psychology. "I have to get ahead of that motorbike! Can't be left behind." And as time passes, it appears that there are fewer and fewer people quietly drinking tea or smoking a cigarette or casually choosing flowers by the side of the road.

From my outsider's perspective, it seems like a race to nowhere; a game in which there are no winners, but a lot of losers. It looks like the stakes are higher than the amount of money people are gambling with.

Sorry if this little tirade has ended in a place different from where it seemed to have been going. But, as I watch the Vietnamese people, who are so strong in so many ways, rushing and honking and texting at the same time, it makes one wonder what they're after. Is the nation becoming more rich? I guess so. Is it becoming more beautiful? Is life here really better?

What's the message?

I have no answer to that. Just a thought.

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