A different kind of crazy

After reading the first few paragraphs of this article in Slate, I thought surely this is the product of some science fiction writer’s imagination.

Around my son’s first birthday, I started holding my iPhone up to his ear when my wife called and saying, “It’s your mama, Luka. It’s your mama.” Our boy often made cooing sounds in response to her voice.

And when I snapped photos with the phone, I showed them to Luka in the moment. He responded with giddy joy.

We quickly fell into a ritual in which I played a slide show of the photos and video in the phone as I put him to bed. Along with Luka, his mother appeared most often in the photos. Usually, by the second run-through, he would be asleep. Once in a while, when I nodded off first, I woke up to discover Luka tapping the screen to replay the video.

And then one day, about two months later, my iPhone rang. My wife’s name appeared on the screen. Before I responded, Luka called out, “Mama!” I was so surprised—and proud. Evidence of their special bond, right? Soon after, Luka blurted out “Mama” again, while we were all in the living room. But he wasn’t facing his mother. He was facing the phone.

Viewed from the perspective of decidedly low-tech suburban Phnom Penh, life in the developed world looks disturbingly wired. Creepy even.

In a peculiar side note, the author of the article, Eric Pape, is a former Phnom Penh-based journalist. Pape worked at The Cambodia Daily in the 1990s. He co-authored “A Tragedy of No Importance,” an in-depth review of the 1997 grenade attack on Sam Rainsy, and he also helped inspire “Shake Girl,” a graphic novel based on the life of Tat Marina.