In Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West,” one of his focuses is the effect of smartphones in the human and migrant experience. In the novel, Nadia and Saeed differ in their relationships to their phones: Saeed tries to limit his use to an hour a day as to not get lost, and Nadia fills her loneliest time.
The phones are both a tool and a problem in our lives. We are infinitely connected to all parts of the world, can instantly reach out to friends, and have knowledge at our fingertips. However, they also isolate us socially from the physical world around us, serve as crutches when people forget how to small talk, and a source of stress for those who suffer from “Nomophobia”(the fear of being without a phone).
In their phones were antennas, and these antennas sniffed out an invisible world, as if by magic, a world that was all around them, and also nowhere, transporting them to places distant and near, and to places that had never been and would never be– Mohsin Hamid
Nadia’s strong affinity for the internet may also have been the reason why she was able to adapt better than Saeed to the new places they lived. Yet, also a way that the couple distanced themselves, finding it too tiresome to try to interact when they were together, opting to scrolling the web. Thus, Hamid argues that in the migrant experience phones are both useful distractors, and also disconnectors at a time when one needs to find a community.
3 thoughts on “Phones – connecting disconnectors”
I think that Hamid purposefully included the part where Nadia and Saeed look at their phones and not each other in order to illustrate how they were growing apart. I don’t think they grew apart because of their phones, although many people do. I think especially during the moments they checked the news and wanted to get caught up, that’s something we can all relate to.
This is something I also picked up on and also it connects still to our lives. Our generation knows the world with phones so having a limit on it would be challenging for many people nowadays. I think Hamid does this to display the reality of it.
I never thought about the difference in which they used their phones and how it affected the way they adapted to new places. I think that’s an interesting perspective and it makes a lot of sense! Nadia adapted better and wanted to put herself out there more, whereas Saeed wanted to only be with people of similar culture