The Diminishing Window

The other day, while rain lashed the town, I stood near the window and looked out. I was impervious to the downpour outside, the thick fiber glass insulating me. I touched the glass to try and feel one of the raindrops snaking down. Far away, I could see a field, and a woman hurrying out to get her cow to the cowshed. A couple of children were hurrying home in the rain, their umbrellas barely able to shield them.

I realized that it had been a long time since I had looked out of a real window, and had taken some time to ‘see’ the world outside. I work in front of a computer monitor, like hundreds of millions of people. I read the newspaper on a computer. I have a smart phone. I am aware of the inflation rate to the last decimal point. I know the price of crude oil and can compare the price of patrol in any city in a moment. I even donate to charities over the internet.

At home, I follow news on TV. I watch reality shows. I fume at the nonchalance of the government over corruption. I play video games with my daughter. And I watch a movie with my wife.

And somewhere along the way, these electronic windows stole my real window. I have morphed into a being that is aware of everything but is not connected to anything. Essentially I feel like an observer.

I know I might be part of a minority, but as families fragment into smaller units and get compartmentalized into tiny flats, I guess each one of us individualize ourselves more. This would be a good thing but for the fact that at the same time we alienate ourselves gradually from a larger entity. Sure, we have society meetings and team lunches and dinner with friends. But somewhere, somehow, I have begun to feel like Siddhartha behind the palace walls, insulated and isolated.

Will my daughter grow up to be scared and repulsed by illness and death? Will she be compassionate when and if she emerges out from her windowless house? Will the millions of new children growing up in front of illuminated monitors be able to touch and feel the world?

Being in the industry I am aware of the many ways technology has touched our lives and improved it. I do not deny that the major strides in these fields have helped many poor families in unimaginable ways. And yet I cannot help but wonder if we are creating a world that is impersonal, disconnected and isolated.

Madhavan Kutty

Technology junkie. Favorite activities include hobby electronics, game development and reading. Information addict. A Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury and Non-Sequitur fan. Follows cricket and tennis. Steinbeck and Dostoyevsky among favorite authors. Currently digging into the Upanishads.