Friday, February 21, 2020

the Korean-language online experience sucks

In the idiom of 2019: "Do you even internet, bruh?"*

This is the question I have to ask every web designer in South Korea. When I want to, say, register for Domino's pizza delivery in the States, I go to the Domino's website, follow the step-by-step registration procedure, enter all the necessary information, then voilà: I'm done. The registration process is one simple, linear forward march to the end. In Korea, by contrast, if I want to register for Domino's, I have go to the Domino's website, begin registration, leave the website to register with a service called "Pass," come back to the Domino's website to complete registration... then end up supposedly registered, but without having entered a delivery address or two. (You can't enter an address until you place your first order. Stupid.)

My experience with most Korean websites is like what I've described above: one step forward, two steps back. Far from being linear, the experience is utterly nonlinear. Far from being efficient, the experience is painfully inefficient. Do Step 1, then before you can move on to Step 2, you get a flag telling you, "But before you continue, you must first register with this third-party service associated with our company! Register with the service, then come back and finish your registration here!" Someone needs to explain to Koreans how good web design is done. Registration should be a one-stop-shopping experience that goes directly from A to Z. But then I remember that I live in Asia, land of the nonlinear. And I lose all hope.

The other problem is that, when you do finally have the chance to enter a destination address for whatever service you're signing up with, you have to enter the address in a very specific format, or else you'll get an "address not found" warning. When you're already angry about the registration process, this warning is the diarrhea on the cake, the capsaicin in the condom, the leprous semen in your ass—the final fucking straw.

Life in Korea—for me, at least—is often characterized by a feeling of being thwarted. I try to cross what seems to be an empty street, and a speeding car suddenly appears, forcing me to wait. I try walking straight down a hallway toward a building's exit, and some slowpoke asshole suddenly bumbles obliviously into my path, blocking my way and shambling like a George Romero zombie. I try moving toward a door, and some fast-moving dickhead (or bitch) cuts in front of me. Korea can be a land of amazingly crisp efficiency when it wants to be, such as when I need to buy new contact lenses. But in other respects, it's a land of meandering, bumbling, desultory turds in human form, blissfully unaware of how they cut others off, block passages, and stop up traffic. And registering for an online service often feels the same way: one step forward, two steps back, in a pattern of constant, relentless thwarting.

If I had the power of three wishes, I'd expend one wish on correcting the ontological messiness of Korean culture. I'd formulate the wish in such a way as to cause all human interactions to proceed smoothly and logically (and, yes: there's some cultural imperialism in that sentiment—I unabashedly mean logically by Western standards). Life on the peninsula would improve so much if only people thought through their actions and took others into consideration. Websites would be smarter, hallways wouldn't be blocked by clueless assholes, and no one would ever feel thwarted—ever.

Perhaps in a later post, I'll go over what my one wish for American culture might be.

*I actually find this expression highly, highly annoying. The formula is, "Do you even ["verbed" noun], bruh?" This turn of phrase was definitely invented by a white dude. It lacks the musicality and wit that are defining characteristics of black slang. "Whoop—muh bad," a black-slang expression from the 1990s, is immediately understandable in context, not to mention snappy and funny. White slang, though, deliberately goes for awkwardness, which is how we've ended up with white-slang gems like "Amazeballs!" and "I can't even."

1 comment:

Charles said...

My favorite part of the online experience here is when you can't do something because your name is too long to fit in the field where it is supposed to go. Take a moment to think about how ridiculous that is. But it's so common that I now accept it as an inevitable part of life.

In the real world, I am constantly amazed at how otherwise thin people manage to take up so much space on sidewalks. How is it that there is no room for me to go around a single person walking in front of me with their face buried in their smartphone?