It was the early nineties, we were standing at a traffic signal when my sister then still in her high school, looked at a billboard and called my mother’s attention to it. The featured advertisement showed a happy family (Comprising mother, son and father) having fun at the park. My sister’s bone of contention was the mother who wore jeans and a tee instead of a Saree. Her innocent query, at that time about why a ‘Mother’ was shown wearing jeans, struck me even then. Are we as a society too rigid about how we expect certain relations to behave or look like? Many years down the lane and its 2011, the generation of Facebook, Twitter and so many other social networking sites that seem to dominate our social scene as well as the way we perceive our relations.
Browse through any of the magazines or E-zines and you’ll know that people above the age group of 30 are terribly worried/concerned or plain voicing their opinions (rather loudly) on the effects of Social networking sites on generation next and the affect that this will have on our relations in the coming years. True perhaps that the grand child of today does not spend as much time with their grandparents. But interestingly, it is not ONLY the grandchildren who don’t have time for their elder, in many cases the reverse also holds true too! With longer life expectancies, greater affordability and increased changes in thought processes, the grandparents of today aren’t what they used to be even a decade back. A research conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, in 2009 shows that the number of Internet users who are 60 years old and above have increased manifolds. In November, 2004 the number of Internet users in the US, in the 60 plus range were about 11.3 million. This rose to17.5 million in November 2009. The drastic increase of Internet users in this age group, speaks for itself. Social networks are here to stay. And whether you believe it or not, many an elderly have benefitted from such services, in reliving their boredom, gaining knowledge and generally being entertained.
Like in all other aspects of society, change is inevitable in the way we look at our relations, deal with them and understand them too. It would perhaps help if instead of complaining or playing the blame game, slight adjustments were made in the way we looked at things and our society in general. Just as it is no longer necessary for a mother to be clad in Saree always, similarly it is perhaps no longer necessary that every grandparent sits down to tell a story. They can in fact do more than that. And in coming to an in-between point where the twain can meet, is perhaps a better solution for everyone involved.
So in spite of the fact that, services like ‘Rent a Granny’ do exist, even flourish, coming to terms with the fact that Social networking is a part of our life, would definitely help us accept such changes in the long run. In the mean time you can always ‘Like’ your granny page to boost her ego and make her day.
Maitreyee B Chowdhury
Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a creative writer and poet. Apart from being a professional web content writer, she writes feature columns in different magazines. She is the author of two books on poetry and regional films in India. People watching is a compulsion for her, she derives her sustainence from the man on the road.