​HOW DO YOU  USE YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT?

I was busy typing something in my cellphone – when the security guard came up and said “Maam, no cellphones while crossing the road”. I looked at him and felt a bit embarrassed. Why did he had to tell me something so obvious? What was so important in my phone that it did not even strike me that I could get run over by a vehicle? Well, a lot of obvious things are not apparent to a lot of us who are busy growing our digital footprint. Why is it important for us to improve our digital footprint? What are we losing by doing so much on our cell phones and our dependency on it?

Our mental abilities go down with our dependencies on the smart phone and smart laptops. We tend to become a dumber with a smart phone in our hand. The other day I had to pay fees for my son’s academic year. The admin of the school politely told us that we are eligible for 10% + 10% discount on the total tuition fees. I gave her my debit card and asked to make the payment in full. Suddenly she started to look for her smart phone because she was unable to calculate 10% + 10% discount on a particular amount. She found a calculator which did not have a % button for direct calculation – she was totally lost how to calculate the amount. I quickly did the calculations and told her. She looked at me first in amazement and then in embarrassment – then she quickly left the office. She came back after 3 mins with her smart phone (apparently she had left it in another office) and did the calculations without a problem. I wondered if my choice of school was right if the admin of the school couldn’t do a simple maths calculation with a paper and pen.

One day I see a whatsapp message from my cleaning maid and I am surprised. Does she have a smartphone and is she educated enough to operate whatsapp? The message was a forward one and then later on there was one more message to say that she will be late to work. I was impressed and thought that maybe I underestimated her. When I enquired about this, she mentioned that her 13 year old daughter is a pro in operating smart phones and helps in keeping her employers informed. “Does your 13 year old daughter has a smart phone?” I asked. “Haan madam, she found it somewhere and doesn’t want to give it up! I don’t stop her because she needs to learn to operate all this naa just like all you people.” She said in an obvious tone, she clearly was proud of her daughter’s new ability and interest in the digital world. I got worried thinking about her daughter and what will happen if this little girl isn’t careful enough in the digital world. It can give her a lot of freedom which she might not use responsibly. I tried to tell this to my maid but I don’t think she understood. I asked her to make me meet her daughter, she agreed but her daughter never came here.

Today I have all the information I need in a click (or touch) of a button. But do I need all this information? Internet is full of fake news and information. News that can cause us a lot of harm. You can easily find news on YouTube which claims that some of the known personalities are either dead or characterless. Is that true? No. Why are people filling up such things in the social media? Because they are earning money out of it. And apparently videos of molestation or riots go viral at a much larger scale than a video showing something positive that a social worker might be doing for the nation. You cannot trust everything that is present on internet.

My gynecologist made a thumb rule for me while I was pregnant. She was very clear in stating that – “If there is particular condition that you are experiencing, just whatsapp me and I will clear your doubt. At any cost don’t use google to find your solution.” I did not understand her when she made this statement. I agreed with her but also believed that she is being too paranoid about internet. Then a situation happened when I was feeling way too much heartburn much over my comfort level. And I resorted to google before informing my doctor. After an hour of google random searches – I was confused, scared and believed that there was something wrong with my pregnancy. I quickly whatsapped my doctor and she reassured me that things are ok and I need to drink some cold milk. I was still scared so I visited her. She did a scan and confirmed that all was ok with me and the baby. Then she asked me the reason for my anxiety and I told her embarrassed that I resorted to google. She wasn’t angry, she just smiled and said “Now you know why I made this thumb rule for all my patients. Every pregnancy is unique and you are bound to feel things differently in your body. Unfortunately, there are a million articles on internet which aren’t true and they will just make you more anxious which is not good for you or the baby.” I agreed and never ever resorted to google again at least to search for medical conditions. My friend recently had mild breast pain and she did the same mistake – instead of visiting a doctor she asked google. After googling she was sure that she has breast cancer and ultimately post a scan doctor confirmed that it was nothing.

My 3 year old son knows how to operate my phone. He can install apps on his own now. And last week I had to install a parental control app to make sure that he doesn’t download anything inappropriate for age mistakenly. It is very easy to get swayed in the digital world. While installing a parental control app I was asking myself if I am overdoing it but there was a voice from inside me – it is better to take precautions than to regret later on.

I hope all my readers and my near dear ones strike the right balance of using digital world in a positive and constructive way. The line between positive usage and negative usage is extremely thin. It is required to pay right attention at every point of time to ensure that our digital footprint is not causing us any harm.

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