B S Raghavan

Down with the hideous tyranny of IT

B. S. RAGHAVAN | Updated on March 12, 2018

Desktop, laptop, Internet, email, skype, Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, soundcloud, YouTube, Androids, mobiles, sms, mms (no, not the other one at Delhi!), iPhone, iTunes, iPod, iPad (not to mention a father’s desperate lament iPaid!) — mamma mia, every one of the seven billion of the world’s population is caught in the inescapable and asphyxiating web of information technology-related gizmos. Netaholism, if not controlled and contained, looks all set to take a deadlier toll than mere, and relatively innocuous, alcoholism.

The withdrawal symptoms are to be witnessed and experienced to be believed. Within seconds of the arrival of a visitor or guest at your place, (s)he gets into some sort of tremors which cannot be quietened until (s)he is seated without delay before a desk or laptop with eyes locked on the screen and fingers hopping all over the keyboard. (S)he is then transported into a state of blissful nirvana and lost to the world for hours.

Conversely, let a desktop, laptop et al but be out of reach or go out of order, for not more than a couple of minutes, (s)he goes crazy, plunging into a highly frenzied and unnerving state of agitation, until (s)he regains the sense of communion with the contraptions.

MATHEMATICAL FORMULA

The Americans have gone about diagnosing and delineating the malaise in the way only Americans can and do — counting, computing, calculating and quantifying. For instance, with reference to workplaces, I learn from a recent write-up ( The Offline Executive) I came across on the Web site of strategy+business that some 247 billion emails are sent daily (as of 2010) and that in one of the lightest e-mail weeks of the year, almost half of a regular 40-hour week is spent handling e-mail!

It quotes the CEO of a major Canadian high-tech company ruefully ruminating on email: “You can never escape. You can’t go anywhere to contemplate, or think.” Of course, this makes a major assumption that CEOs are capable of contemplating and thinking, but I let it pass, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

The same report contains a mathematical formula which you can apply to gauge the extent of the tyranny of emails: First, tally the number of e-mails and texts you received during a given week. Second, calculate the portion of those messages for which some action on your part was required. Third, calculate your send/receive ratio (the number of messages you sent divided by those you received). Finally, look at your origination rate (the percentage of sent messages that you initiated, rather than messages that originated elsewhere to which you replied).

Got it? Now, go work it out in your case. Whatever the result, you are bound to find it horripilating, if not actually horrifying.

Breaking free

Whatever way you look at it, there can be no doubt that our lives are going to be gobbled up by IT gadgets and gizmos before whose menacing march we, the ‘eek’ing geeks, stand no chance. On the one hand, we face the prospect of take-over by robots (as predicted by some futuristic calamitarians). On the other, we are going to be thrown into the petrifying predicament of being bound hand and foot by the IT monster.

We can only cry a la Sir Bedevere in Morte D’Arthur: “Ah! Fellow netizens, whither shall we go? Where shall we hide our foreheads and our eyes? For now we see the true old times are dead”!

But wait. How can we be so helpless? Aren’t we the inheritors of a valorous heritage? We certainly can break loose from this tyranny if only we put our hearts to it. Try this home-made remedy which I offer with a full two minutes’ warranty:

Stack in a room all the addictive appurtenances, lock it up and throw the key out the window. (I would have recommended setting fire to it if there was no danger of the whole house being reduced to smouldering rubble.) Chain yourself to your chair far from the room and leave no scope for your glance to fall on it, even for a split-second. Sponge baths and eating as you are become the compulsory concomitants of your condition, but it is a price worth paying for ridding yourself of the hideous tyranny.

Now, onward, netizen soldiers, claim the victory you deserve.

Published on October 16, 2012

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