B S Raghavan

Give yourselves holidays from gizmos!

B.S.RAGHAVAN | Updated on January 22, 2013

I heard the other day of a 14-year old son of a friend of mine, a student of a good school, shutting himself up in his room throughout the day and far into the night, glued to his laptop or iPad, and endlessly playing computer games, watching movies or surfing innumerable Web sites to do with wares, gadgets, dresses, shoes and the like.

Things, I was told, had gone so bad that he refused to come out of his room or to attend classes, neglected his studies, and demanded food and beverages to be taken to him by his parents or domestic help.

It is becoming a common sight for many of us to see even three-to-four-year-old children sitting transfixed before the latest gizmos hour after hour and the parents boasting with enormous pride about their proficiency with computers and the long hours they spend with them.

How many times have we not caught ourselves impressing others with the number of email messages we receive, the number of times we open our email boxes, and the number of hours we spend with our personal computer (PC)! What contempt do we have for the bullock-cart, snail-mail, mindset of those who don’t measure up to our level of addiction to PCs!

GENETIC MUTATION

There are many (don’t ask me if am one!) who take their iPads, iPods, iPhones, iTunes, smartphones and at the very minimum their mobiles to bed, if only because they cannot relax without frequently running their fingers fondly over them, reflexively stroking them and now and then pressing the on-button to have a quick peep or peek, so they do not miss out on something that has landed,.

There is not one that I see on my walks or while driving or travelling who does not have his/her palm on his/her ear, so much so, I have come to fear that if this kind of the palm sticking to the ear goes on too long, there will be a genetic mutation leading to babies being born with their palms to their ears, necessitating changes in gynaecological procedures!

More horrifyingly, with hands-free headsets saving mobile users from even the little trouble of holding the devices, I see some going about apparently talking to themselves as if they are loonies, nervous wrecks or schizophrenics.

Some have got it into their heads that unless they shout into their mobiles, the volume of their voice will not be carried the entire distance between themselves and their contacts. Result: The whole gamut of their plans, views, quarrels is laid bare for all the world to know.

I look back on the time when the manual typewriter was the height of technology; you couldn’t take out more than four clear copies at a time and even for that, you had to keep the carbons in between sheets of paper and hammer the keys hard.

The average, even higher middle class, household didn’t have telephone, and to make a call, one had to go all the way to a shop or hotel, or depend on a considerate and even-tempered neighbour who owned a telephone; and that too was only once in a blue moon, after solemnly weighing the pros and cons for days.

BODY CHEMISTRY

Well, have all the technological contraptions made for better management, better governance, better relationships and, in short, better human beings?

Have they reduced the time wasted on piffle, the paper consumed, or the prevalence of distrust, misunderstanding and conflict? Why, with everything moving at the speed of light, are there all those embassies, high commissions and resident representatives, seminars and conferences? Why not click the mice (or mouses?) of PCs and be done with it?

More connections have not meant that human beings are coming closer together. Those who are burying themselves in their keyboard soon become strangers to the use of language, if not to themselves.

Nothing can take the place of all the alchemy brought on by body chemistry: The warm handshake, the welcoming smile, the pat on the back, the tight hug, the kind and loving word, face to face.

Relying on technology alone only leads to a dry-as-dust, insulated, isolated, desiccated, dehydrated, dehumanised existence.

So, folks, break out of the slavery to technology and shut off all those gizmos and give yourselves to your near and dear ones for gradually expanded durations.

Published on January 22, 2013

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