A flicker. A glance. You are waiting for the teacher to look away. She’s speaking, but you are deaf to what she is saying. Still, you nod artificially, pretending that you understand. Finally she moves away to stare at the other side of the classroom.
Your hands automatically unlock your phone, as you look down to check the new message, notification. Your fingers begin to answer the message effortlessly, as you glance back at the teacher again to check if she has resumed her former angle.
You are every kid, in every classroom of any school or college, in 21st century urban India, and more or less any city in the world.
But my judgement is not solely based on teenage behaviour.
At a dinner party elsewhere in the same city, parents are playing a game. A very hep and upcoming game titled “Who Checks Their Blackberry First.” The person who is able to resist checking his or her Blackberry for the maximum time, wins.
2012 has heralded a new age of information and technology. YouTube’s “Did You Know” videos tells us that we are living in progressive times- the information generated in a week’s worth of New York Times is equivalent to the information a person would come across in his entire lifetime in the 18th century, more text messages are sent in a single day than there are people in the world, da da da.
These are crazy times. Internet access is more readily available than clean, drinking water. Pizza reaches you faster than an ambulance. Conversation is almost free, easy and unlimited. Any query- understandable, shameful, or absolutely absurd can be searched on Google, and bear in mind, you will find the answer. It is undoubtedly there. Almost any song, book or movie can be downloaded off the internet, for no cost.
With services like Blackberry Messenger and Whatsapp, in addition to being able to connect to anybody who uses the same service at any point of time with utmost convenience, the person is also able to see whether the recipient has read the message or not, placing them under immediate obligation to reply, deleting scope for desired space in relationships. According to me this is absurd because conversation is, and will always remain, a privilege.
Then we have HD Digital TV services from Tata, Airtel and Dish Network among many others, which offer to record televisions shows, including being able to forward, rewind and skip unnecessary parts.
What happens to the privilege of advertisements, if all our shows are recorded and we can just skip over ads?
What happens to setting aside a particular time of the day for your favourite TV programme, when you can watch it any time you want?
What happens to the beautiful charm of waiting, wondering and contemplating what will happen in the next episode, if we dismiss the legacy of serialization inherited from the Victorian Era, by watching it all in one go?
What happens to reflecting on what you see and letting your learning sediment properly before you move on and watch episode after episode?
Am I just hopelessly old-fashioned and unnecessarily resistant? Would I have been the one back in the olden days saying, “The world is ROUND?! You must be crazy!”
But I like to believe that in days and times like these, there is an essential need to Stop.
And just take a Breather.
My father always says that all of us should buy big dustbins, keep it outside our rooms and at night before sleeping, switch off all our phones, laptops and all other electronic devices and just stash them in the big dustbin. Not that I’m saying that we need to be as extreme. But here are a few things that you can do, to take a Breather.
- Switch off your phones at night, definitely. Also while you’re studying or completing any important work. And perhaps, especially when you’re drunk.
- Check Facebook once, or maximum twice a day. Believe me, it gives greater joy that way; plus you get bulk notifications which make you happier as opposed to getting them one by one.
- You may hate me for this, BUT DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF HAVING FACEBOOK ON YOUR PHONE.
- If you go out of town for a trip, DISCONNECT. Completely. Enjoy and relish every single moment you are there, with the people you are, instead of updating everybody else back home constantly. The joy of narrating crazy stories is more if your friends don’t already know bits and pieces.
Most importantly, never forget the old saying, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.”
I feel that space is the fodder to relationships; as long as you are consistently and unsparingly informing and demanding from the other person about whereabouts, what they’re up to, and what it will entail, there will remain no curiosity, and no excitement to get back and talk after a certain point.
But given adequate personal space and periods of time when you’re not in touch using means of easy communication, there is more likelihood that the relationship will sustain, and at the same time, flourish.
Image Source [http://wp-content/uploads/2010/12/breathing.jpg]