I lost my smartphone a couple of months back. Emails, Whatsapp, Social Networking, Games, Apps, Online shopping, grocery shopping, cab hailing, ride sharing – all of it went along with it. To say it was a loss was an understatement. Besides, the actual cost of the phone, the functionality of it, the versatile uses one could come up with, all of it went out of the window.
Having lost more than a justifiable number off smartphones (clumsiness, bad luck, rough travelling), I came to a decision which would be challenged (and envied by) everybody. To imagine a life without a smartphone for a middle class new entrant into the job market is not exactly something one is comfortable with. With each advancing generation of the blessed platform of smartphones, it slowly makes more things accessible at your fingertips. The ease, the simplicity and in many cases, the elegance of it is somewhat awe-inspiring. After all, when 4 year olds are able to use these devices, it’s not a testament to the child’s genius, but the engineers.
Shifting to a feature phone (the cheapest handset I could possibly find) wasn’t easy. The limited use, the screeching ring tone, the small memory for messages were just a few things plaguing it. The one good feature of the shift was the really powerful torch it came along with, a blessing for a late night walk courtesy the power cuts of Delhi.
Having shifted, there was one noticeable change. Thanks to the lack of the entertainment box (ie. smartphone), the observation of people around me took a whole new dimension. From just being aware of the surroundings to looking around for entertainment, especially when in public transport; it was amazing to say the least. The one thing which one cannot miss in this situation is – the sheer number of people glued to the screen of their smartphones!
From the autowallah looking for a particular song to serenade me, the college student trying to get a new high score, the designer checking out the latest piece which her tailor had made, the cop enjoying a music video of some lesser known item girl, everybody seems to look only at their phones. And nowhere else.
Gone is the time you might randomly strike up a conversation with a fellow passenger. Gone are the days for a random encounter with a beautiful lady while waiting at the queue. Lost are those moments where rain meant jumping in joy while getting soaked.
Have we become so engrossed in our electronic world that we have forgotten to live? The pleasure of a social contact with someone you might never meet again. We live on this platform, talk through it and meet people through it. We might as well live in it by this standard.
About a decade ago, parents could be heard screaming at their children to get off of social networks and pay attention to real life. “Facebook won’t pay your bills, beta” is a line heard by many in our youth. We managed to make a way for Facebook to pay our bills, but we may have slowly lost out on everything that made us human.
Don’t get me wrong, getting a cab on a smartphone is easy and extremely convenient. I don’t know if it’s worth the simple and smart conversations we all would once have.
Ranveer Raj Bhatnagar