I've heard about the "digital economy" for a while, and like the term "AEC", I don't really know what it means. But if it means we're going to go fully digital -- or at least planning to -- we have a lot of work ahead of us.
Thailand is, apparently, not a technologically advanced country. We might be the second top country for Line, with 24 million users, but on a scale of the Teletubbies to Steve Jobs, our tech-savviness is probably SpongeBob (perhaps because we're surrounded by "square pants"). Just see how we reacted to recent reports of a meteorite -- fortune tellers were interviewed before astronomers.
Need more evidence? At any given automated parking ticket vending machine are at least two security guards pushing the button for us, because most users can't figure out how to use it, or just can't be bothered to perform that exhausting task themselves. The same happens at movie-ticketing machines, self check-in booths at the airport and automated immigration counters. For every automated machine, it seems we need a person to stand there and do it for us.
How useless are we at pushing buttons? In my experience, the average ATM user takes about five minutes to withdraw 100 baht, with all that staring, head shaking and tsking. However, that could be caused by their remaining account balances.
Many Thais also have serious cases of "online-application-ophobia". I have a friend like that. She pays someone else to do things such as filling in her online visa applications because she is afraid she might key in something wrong and get arrested. Well, that's new.
When talking about the digital economy, the focus is often on making sure everyone has access to digital devices and the internet, not how to use them. But what do we have in Thailand? Internet hoaxes. Fortune-telling websites. Facebook pages offering to do your school assignments for a few hundred baht. People posting stolen travel pictures on Pantip and calling themselves "hipster travellers". Fifteen-year-olds uploading YouTube videos about how much they love their boyfriends. (*Slow clap*)
As far as digital economy goes, we might not yet have the right mentality, but hey, we have the tools. And the mentality will probably catch up later, right? Technophobic parents might not understand just what digital devices can do, but why not let their kids explore that on their own? That seems to be the parenting norm these days -- hand the kids a tablet to shut them up as parents go about their daily lives. And with the Yingluck Shinawatra-initiated "one tablet per child" policy, we can make sure no child will ever miss out on the trolling experience.
Bring on the digital economy, Dear Leaders. We Thais are oh-so-ready!
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