By Naomi Nair
For a woman whose dad used to run an IT firm for the longest time of her life, I’m terribly wary of technology. I crave for those simple days of the past when phones were just a tool attached to a wire, helping people keep in touch, rather than these modern day devices that keep track of where I go, what I do, how I spend my time, and use my personal data only to tell me later in the form of “suggestions” and “recommendations” what I should be doing next. Smart phones they are called; a phone so smart that it makes me feel dumb. Our lives are governed by Siris and Alexas who are so adept at everything, it renders us incompetent and useless. Our thumbs are so used to tapping away on our phones, scheduling, texting, uploading, playing, recording, Googling and navigating a gazillion apps that it twitches and shivers like an addict waiting for his next high when the phones are away from its reach.
Gone are those days when families shared snippets of their day and chatted animatedly over dinner time conversations. Big arguments and seemingly minor disagreements were sorted out by engaging in an open dialogue. But all that has changed now thanks to the technology enabled cold war. Twitter has become the battleground for the ‘war of the words’. No more talking things out person to person. Feelings, thoughts, emotions and personal opinions are communicated openly for the whole world to savour via Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram posts that gets circulated for the thirsty minds waiting to catch the latest episode of ‘he said and she said!’. This practice is not just restricted to the rich and famous anymore.
Our generation is so dependent on technology that it relies on Whatsapp stories to communicate our feelings to the person we have an issue with. Powerfully moving quotes set on colourful backgrounds are used for this purpose. Nine times out of ten, the stories are pulled out as soon as the person for whom it was intended has seen and responded.
Can this not be done over a simple phone call? I guess not! It looks like we can’t thrive without the technology driven drama. On a personal note, I’m both amused and annoyed at the same time when I’m asked to like or comment on someone else’s (family and otherwise) post so that it gets maximum visibility, as if I was the one who was desperate for that post to be uploaded in the first place! When did likes and reach become a measure of personal success and a derivative of happiness? No doubt, more followers is an indication of rising popularity but does it bring greater fulfilment to one’s life?
I love my technology, when it delivers my favourite meals or the latest merchandise or captures beautiful moments through photos and videos in the flash of a second and it should stop there, but I see myself becoming a slave to my device too, voluntarily and involuntarily.
Just the other day, wanting to rescue myself from the general gloom and doom of a pandemic induced life, I happily entered a café that hung at its entrance, a large board with a quote advising us mortals against the use of smart phones and related devices. My happiness was short lived as I had to pull out my phone to use the QR code to access the menu and send my order across via an app to the kitchen. Oh, the irony!
Now once again on a self-imposed quarantine where my only source of consolation and relaxation is my phone, as I lay on my couch, venting out these thoughts in my head to no one in particular, not wanting to share them out loud in case it offends either or both Siri and Alexa waiting to pry in on my every word, (or worse, start sending me advertisements on how to protect my thoughts) I wonder, what will be the next shackle binding me further to the chains of technology!
Naomi Nair is a bibliophile who finds salvation in writing and looks to words to help her make sense of the world. Her book reviews and poetry can be read at simplybookalicious.blog.
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