I BECAME INEFFECTIVE

I was very good in calculation. My friends used feel jealous of me because before they can hold pen and paper to do the addition or subtraction I used to come up with my answers orally. I lost that skill with the advent of calculators, computers and then smart phones.

I am a grumpy riser in the morning. When I wake up I love to be quiet and calm for sometime before rushing here and there. Previously, I used to wake up and sit outside looking at the morning as a whole blankly. That used to make me feel fresh and ardent. That good habit which I had was long lost because of my smart phone or phones… Now when I wake up, I pull out the phone underneath my pillow and look at it for sometime meaninglessly and get tired before going to the office. Yeah, the messages, the chit chats and the screen tire my brain and eyes.

I used to search for people at home or nearby to talk with or to play with or just tease them, irritate them, make them laugh. I never used to sit quietly and never allow anyone around me to succumb to any sorrow or sadness.  Now, I excuse myself for some work – Where… on my computer or phone. I am slowly loosing the ability to talk nicely or pleasantly with the people around me because I am working or busy on my smart machines and don’t want any sort of disturbances or interruptions.

Previously, when I used to hold the pen the words used to flow out easily on the paper which I used to type down on computer at one go later. I lost that exercise and type directly these days and you know what… My arms pain when I type for a long time because I spend more time on computer thinking and typing instead of just typing.

I used to cook or do some painting or read some books or study when I am free at home. I had stopped all that now. Why? Because I am busy with my computer and phones. I feel tired to explore my cooking skills. I don’t have interest in meaningless paintings. And I feel I can read books online which I don’t do when I see my friends online.

What I observed about myself is that I study less and search more. I concentrate less and collect more. I get ideas more but implement less. I think less and imagine more. I get online more and stay offline less. I get disintegrated more because I discipline myself less. I have become more enigmatic to myself and less effective for life’s purpose.

I don’t know how you feel about yourself today. I feel extremely inefficient and ineffective. Yeah, I know you can say I doing this that… blah blah blah… But I know my status very well.

Let me tell you a story. I bought a new phone last year. She bought it for me actually for her own demise… And do you know what happened to my previous phone. It was absolutely a good phone. I slammed it in anger because my wife said, “You don’t listen to me properly but always busy with your phone.” Two of these machine wives have stolen my human wife’s time.

Machines can’t rule me. I have to rule them to stay in the race.

Modernism is how effective I am in my daily lives not how efficient I am handling a machine.

Stay Blessed!

MODERNIZATION – A FINE REPLACEMENT YET…

Couple of years back one of my church youth engraved tattoo on his shoulder. I asked him “What is this? Why have you engraved it?” He replied, “Bhai, you are man of formal clothing, you won’t understand what modernity is!”

It sounded me like “You are an outdated person”.

Famous Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar says,

“Modernity is the ability to be on time”.

He is literally correct; modernity is Being Relate – Being Relevant – Being Requisite to the time NOW. We the people of 21st century are a step ahead of Modernization; we are on the verge of Post-Modernism. We are post-modern in art; post-modern in fashion; post-modern in technology; post-modern in communication; post-modern in all means of transaction in daily life.

But in this pace of Post-modernism the questions that always haunt in between – What’s wrong being modern/post modern?

Why it is not accepted in many cultures?

Being Modern is never wrong but the idea of Modernism needs to be re-calibrated. For the fine re-calibration of the Philosophy of Modernism, let’s take a flashback of The Beginning.

“In the beginning God created Man and Woman in His own image and blessed them in the Garden of Eden to live – rule and multiply in number but He warned them not to eat the fruit of forbidden tree . One evening the craftiest of all, the serpent came and provoked the woman to eat the same fruit, so that she will become like God knowing Good and Evil and it is written that, the woman find the fruit Good for Food, Pleasing to the Eye and Desirable for gaining Wisdom, so she ate some and also gave her husband to eat some.”

This story has great analogy to the philosophy of modernism. We all strive to be modern because we want to BE SATISFIED – to BE CHARMING – to BE INTELLIGENT. Since the beginning we humans have tried to be different to gain something and get satisfaction of it and I think that’s the reason the famous Facebook update of our time is, “I wanna LOOK different, FEEL different and BE different.”  Because all that matters to me is the “ME THING”!

In this modern time we have replaced our extended family to nuclear family –the growing tendency of “Me and My” has brought us to such a place that we have stop bothering about the separation of our cousin’s family. The age of Emoticons have replaced Emotions.

We have replaced land line telephones with smart phones, but still the havoc of allurement entices me of dissatisfaction of not having an iPhone.

The need of speedy communication replaced Telegrams to Email but still we fail to communicate message on time. Our courtesy moves aren’t resulting to influence our neighbor.

Our trendy wear has replaced our traditional wear and we look for more seductive appearance rather than being beautiful. 20th Century famous French fashion designer Christian Dior said, “No fashion is ever a success unless it is used as a form of seduction”.

To keep us more secure we have replaced our sharp edged swords to nuclear ammunition yet we struggle to keep our iPhones secure from terrorist hack. The more secure we feel the more insecure we are.

After doing this wide and remarkable scale of replacements in the mood of MODERNIZATION

….. yet we look for more Satisfaction, which is a Bottomless pit

….. yet we look to be more Charming, which is just as the lips of forbidden woman

….. yet we look for more Wisdom and Knowledge, which brings more sorrow and grief

Bible says,

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Don’t replace…just re-calibrate!

YOU KNOW IN OUR TIMES…

When I was a kid many a times my father used to relate many Interesting stories about his childhood. Which typically started as ‘you know in our times….’ . And we used to react like a typical teenager and say ‘oh no.. not again’ . Well I hope your reaction is not similar, as my story also starts with  ‘ you know when I was a child…’


I feel positively ancient while saying this but yes I was born during the time when mobile phones did not exist.  Watching TV meant half an hour of Chitrahaar on Doordarshan.. Yes, the cable TV did not exist. It came into our lives quite late as my parents thought I wouldn’t study for my board exams if we had cable TV in the house.

But still I can assure you I had a very happy childhood. Things used to happen without technology also. Even though it sounds unthinkable now but plans were made to meet up with a friend at some place and we could locate each other without making multiple calls to each other. We had long chats with our friends without WhatsApp or Facebook. We used to remember by heart  the small five or six digit phone number of our all our friends. Playing with friends actually meant getting together, running, catching, jumping etc nothing was virtual.

It’s so different now. Technology has changed quite a few things in our life. And mostly for the better. Our life has become easier and more convenient. 

But there are small small things in our life which disturb me at times. Like I was horrified when I first heard my elder son declare to  his younger brother that he will kill him. I ran to the room and realised that they were talking about their onscreen game avatars. I explained to them that they shouldn’t talk like this but still among their friends I can commonly hear phrases like ‘i will kill you’ or ‘so and so is gonna die’. Makes me very uneasy. This life like graphic in video games has made the children so desensitized towards violence and bloodshed etc that it feels very normal to them.

While on the topic of teenagers, there is this game called as blue whale which is in news these days. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare come true. I still don’t understand how an unknown person sitting so far away can persuade a child to do bodily harm to oneself and even go to the extent of suicide. And here I a mother, the nurturer, the care giver, can’t even persuade my child to eat the green veggies. Jokes apart it’s a sad situation. The technology that was meant to connect us is alienating us from our loved ones. Everyone is busy with their head bent over a phone or a tab oblivious to the people around them. 

We have all heard of people dying while trying to take a perfect selfie. I don’t even understand this fad well enough to comment on it.

The convenience provided by technology is fast turning us into couch potatoes. Daily chores have become easier, lifestyle sedentary and then we have to spend thousands of rupees in the gym to get our body and health back in shape.

Recently I read an article about Facebook and Google shutting down their artificial Intelligence programs as the computers had  become too smart for the humans. They had developed their own language to communicate with each other, which the humans could not understand as it was more efficient as compared to our languages. Scary isn’t it. What if the machines decide that they are way smarter than humans and they don’t require humans at all. Doesn’t it remind you of the skynet of Terminator series. 

So as I was saying ‘you know in our times …’ What was considered as science fiction is fast becoming reality. I just hope it does not turn out like the man vs machine movies of Hollywood..

OF DAYS GONE BY, THOSE THAT ARE AND THOSE YET TO COME

Oftentimes our human mind is hasty to picture modernization merely in terms of technological advancements. However, the concept of modernization is much broader than that. A reflection on the emergence and development of various civilizations of the world would make us realize that each civilization that came into existence centuries later, was more advanced and modern than those preceding it. That is how we have the Stone Age giving way to the Bronze Age which in turn gave way to the Iron Age. And gradually, we are today in what can aptly be called as the Digital Age! In historical and sociological terms, the present age that we are living in today is termed as the ‘post-modern age’.

As we look back to the blissful past, there are indeed certain things that dim the illumination of this post-modern age. Today, the world is teeming with high human population; but sadly humanity is on the decline. Education opportunities are on the rise – scholarships, fellowships and educational loans are easily available now than they were in the past. However increasing knowledge base has reduced the basic levels of common sense in people – leave alone digging deep into the mines of wisdom. IQ levels have risen, but EQ levels have miserably dipped. The global job market offers numerous opportunities for people to carve a niche for themselves. With high standard jobs come high income, more facilities and less peace of mind. Many people have tasted sweet success in their careers today, than they could do in the past. But the pressure to remain successful makes life and living stressful.

Newer explorations to the space, sun, moon, Mars and other planets are being planned everyday; while people have little communication with their own family members and with their neighbours. The picture at the dinner table is increasingly becoming like this: the family members sitting around the table – a spoon in one hand and a mobile in the other, eyes fixated onto the screen! Where is the time for bonding, communication, emotional development within the family that used to be a tale to boast years down the lane?

There was a time when families lived under thatched houses or one-room apartments, but did share their joys and sorrows with each other. With increasing modernization, bigger houses with excellent amenities mark prosperity. But, with it comes the concept of individual space (which is so widely misunderstood) – a room for each member of the family, thus isolating each person to his/her own corner. Gaps in the family bonding are wide enough to give space to extra-marital relationships and conflicts among the members.

Healthcare is at its best today than it was few decades back. But giving the healthcare think tanks a tough time, are lifestyle diseases and psychological problems, which are at their peaks today than they were anytime previously. Alienation leading to depression, performance pressure giving rise to anxiety disorders and the pressure to conform to changing patterns giving rise to personality disorders.

We are increasingly developing into an impatient generation. We want things to be done instantly – no matter to whatever extent we need to go to get our ends met. The practice of delayed gratification and self-control are quickly fading into the oblivion.

We cannot travel back in time to those simple days of innocence and bliss. Time moves forward. Development is the name of the day. And we all want to taste the boons of modernization. However as we aim to fly high in the air, let’s bear in mind that dust we are and to dust we shall return. No matter what era we belong to, we need to hold the basic life values dear to the heart and pass on the same to the generation next.

 

HOW DO YOU FEED YOUR 2 YEAR OLD

As a mother of a 2 year old – this is usually a question we often end up asking each other in kids play area while talking to other moms. It’s a challenge – that’s usually the answer from each one of us.

So, what do I do? Typical evening in my house.

“Joey, its dinner time. Come, mom made your favorite aloo parantha with curd.”

No reaction from the child. Then I hold him and tell him the same thing.

“No no no. I don’t want to eat.”

“Ok, do you want something else? Do you want butter with it? Or do you want paneer ki sabji?”

No reaction yet again.

“Come baby, we will read this book. I got you a new story book.”

“No, I don’t want.” He says while running around the entire house.

Tired after horrible day at work – I feel the frustration rising inside me. It is already 9 pm and if he doesn’t eat now, his sleep time will get delayed and then tomorrow morning will be a challenge. And a thought crosses my mind – when will the day come when he will just sit on his own and eat?

“Come Joey, we will watch YouTube – Dora the Explorer has a new episode”. I give up finally and that little tinge of guilt crooks up, but I turn it down. I will not give him phone from next weekend – I make a self-resolution which I know will not last.

Joey comes quickly as obedient kid and takes his place on his chair. Dinner is done in 13 mins maximum. And then another challenge begins.

“Joey give me the phone back now. Dinner is done.”

No reaction. He is just so engrossed in watching which place will Dora visit next! I wait till his episode of 20 mins get over. But damn this YouTube, they just start off the next episode in just 10 seconds. Then there is bit of struggle in getting the phone back from him but finally I succeed. So overall, 22 mins of phone time! This multiplied by 3 times a day. Not a good sign at all. It is not always YouTube there is Angry Birds, Talking Tom, Color Squad and so many more! Why do they make such apps and why do I even install such things?? No idea!

Post dinner Joey wants me to read a story to him and probably sing nursery rhymes with him at the top of the voice. And many times actually enact them as well. So we start doing just that. We start with “Teddy bear, teddy bear”, “Daddy finger”, “Incy wincy spider” and then the story of “Pied piper” followed by “Hansel and Gretel”. In middle of the story, I see my phone beep and there a WhatsApp notification from my best friend who is in the US. She will leave for work in some time and then I won’t be able to chat with her and there is one important topic that cannot wait. So now I start to multitask between WhatsApping her and reading stories to my son. 15 mins later, he is frustrated and cranky and so am I!

This is an everyday story for me and I am sure for a lot of other moms. I don’t know how our mothers managed us without mobile apps, Tata sky and chromecast. Our generation cannot think of not having technology as a partner in parenting.

Sometimes it is 2 year old not eating without phone, other times it is a 5 year old learning how to fight the goons from our Bollywood masala. There are also many 13 year olds who are fighting with their parents for a smartphone and others who want a Facebook or an Instagram account. There are many kids who love to play Dark Knight, Pokemon or Minecraft sitting in a room comfortably engrossed in the virtual world. There are kids who simply hate the fact that they are asked to play Football, Cricket, Tennis in the real fields. There are adults who check their phones on an average of every 10 mins – you can imagine the power of concentration that we have.

I recently read a sarcastic joke on WhatsApp – “Can you imagine that there are still some hopeless people in this world who hold a toothbrush in their hands as soon as they wake up instead of their phone?” Well it is indeed unimaginable. I don’t remember the last time I did not check my phone as soon as I woke up. Do you remember???

ARE WE BECOMING SLAVES OF MODERNIZATION?

A magnificent morning with a splendid sunrise in a small village. A small old thatched home with a small, yet a neat surrounding .the surrounding space contains plants and a small box like shaped home for hens. The morning alarm is the sound of the “Cock-a-doodle-doo” by the cock in the traditional way of standing on top of its small house. With the wake-up call, the elder lady in the house wakes up and starts cleaning the place, and the smoke evolving from the chimney of the house, as she starts cooking too. The place is well-kept single handed by the lady of the house. She wakes up everyone and simultaneously keeps on her household work too. All gets-up and starts on the daily chores. Kids wake up and start playing with the hen and chicks in the surrounding. They run around in the sand, the grass among the plants touching each and everything in nature. From one corner the father laughs at their play, another corner the mother is scolding them for spoiling the place. Yet, there is joy in the house- a harmony that is untouched by the modernization.

Nowadays, the scenario is totally different. Everyone wakes up with mobile alarms, gone are the days of even the clocks. Instead of God or seeking the blessings from the Lord, all are busy in checking WhatsApp and Facebook even before opening their eyes. There are no conversations, it is just message – binaries flowing everywhere. Every neck is bent down on to the mobiles or pads. Everything has changed.

The other day as I was passing the street near my home, I noticed few kids playing in the rain, with all the mud all over them. There was no tinge of scare or anybody to take care of them. They were like free-birds, enjoying their flight in the mother nature. This lets me think when was the last time I took a walk in the rain, walked around the muddy area and enjoyed the down pour. For a second I felt jealous of them.

Another day, from the balcony of my apartment, I kept watching the kids in the construction site. When our kids were enjoying the bliss of luxury, they were playing with single toys. Now kids don’t need toys they are all clogged to the mobile and iPad screens.

Technology has truly drained the childhood, making them more machine like. One day the whole will be like binaries- 1 and 0  with no one to distinguish the feelings of the heart. The insensibility created by the modernization is affecting the minds. Everyone around us is getting addicted to the facilities and the progression made by the world. Going back to nature and becoming one has become close to impossible.

We are slowly hurting the mother nature, to increase the comfort. But what does this comfort lead us

But what does this comfort lead us to?

Yes, Obesity, laziness, illness, and much more. The world is becoming a comfort-zone for all the illness too. Increase in pollution due to deforestation. There is a huge gap that is developed in the people with regard to income. And more over our culture is deteriorating gradually, unknowingly by our own deeds.

It is time to realize the impact we are creating in the world – distinguish the positive and the negative ones and react accordingly. We need to methodize some ways to preserve the nature, as well as our culture. We need to teach our kids the beauty of living in nature. Let them understand the life in a rightful manner.

WE’RE CHANGING OUR WORLD WITH TECHNOLOGY

Few years back I came across a documentary, “Love Child“. The documentary is based on a heart wrenching incident where a South Korean couple starved their 3-month old daughter to death because they were addicted to an online video game. Do you know what is the irony of the story? In the game they were addicted to, they were nurturing their virtual child while they left their real child unattended.

The game ‘Prius’ allowed them to create virtual characters of themselves as if they have a new life, after certain levels in the game they would be awarded with a child whom they would be parents for. A virtual reality game made them forget their real life’s responsibilities for a 12 hour stretch starving their baby to death. The state in which the child was found by the police in their apartment not only shocked the entire nation of South Korea but many other people around the world were left to wonder how much technology can effect us. 

Parenthood is considered sacred in South Korea, hence it is not culture but the addiction to ‘technology’ which is the main culprit. This is just one story, there are numerous others. 

Advent of internet, advancement in technology are the greatest achievements man has ever made, truly letting us do more in less time. Technology is not confined to internet, mobile, computer or other high-tech inventions, but any invention that can improve our life-style falls under the umbrella of technology, like airplanes, washing machines etc ., 

Majority of our every day tasks have some connection with technology. We cannot step out of our homes without mobile phone – we loose connectivity, we cannot navigate, we cannot even remember important dates without reminders.

It may not have been so obvious during the early stages of the development of technology, but our technology-driven world has taken a toll on today’s relationships. The use, and now dependency on cell phones, tablets and computers that our society faces today has changed the way we live. While there are many advantages of it, we cannot escape the negative effects of technology. 

  • Lack of socializing: We are so engrossed in our smart phones that we barely feel the need to socialize. We are able to talk, exchange feelings with anyone around the world in the blink of an eye making us totally forget what it is to have a fun evening with friends in a patio. 
  • Lack of physical activity: Cars, grinders, washing machines helped us save time but deprived us of physical activity. Video games erased the need of playgrounds confining our kids to play indoors. The second major reason to obesity to over-eating is ‘not exercising’…
  • Loneliness: Reduced interactions with people in office, at home is increasing at an alarming rate making people very busy with their virtual lives. While we are in a party we find it convenient to stare at our mobile, earphones with music on we commute, slowly we will find ourselves to have fallen victim to loneliness.
  • Reduced Empathy: This might sound untrue, but according to psychologists more population is becoming self-centered and selfish, making us less altruistic. Our anger levels have increased, carelessly we say “Get lost” or “Don’t ever talk to me again” forgetting that gadgets can be used and thrown, not people. 
  • Deteriorated Health: Continuous exposure to radiations emitted by screens of gadgets cause harm to eyes. Over exposure leads to head aches, migraines. Wrong postures lead to neck injuries, cervical spine or  even can damage parts of brain.

Aforesaid are very much inter-related. They can effect our family, social interactions and relationships very negatively increasing stress. As we run out of time spending our precious life with lifeless gadgets we cannot engage time into useful activities or even self ! 

At this juncture I want to share something that disturbs me when I hear it from my colleagues and friends – cellphone distracted parenting. As both husband and wife are working, they don’t get time to deal with tantrums of their kids . The most opted resort is to engage kid with a cellphone. Parents take pride saying, “He/She knows how to browse for favorite videos to play them”. Usage of gadgets at such tender age deteriorates brain growth. Studies also reveal that such kids play less with other kids, eat high levels of sugar and grow up depressed. 

Environmental damage, increase of global temperature are warning us of getting deprived of a place to live. Air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, industrial waste are disrupting ecology. Heard of the word “technotrash” ? Waste produced from outdated or damaged electronics contains hazardous materials gets disposed making the environment unsafe.

I am in no way against technology or down-playing how awesome it is. I love being part of the generation who saw many strides in technology. We know exactly how it is to live with and without technology. Without the current technology you couldn’t be reading this article. While being thankful to technology to have helped us have this seamless  life, it would be wise to not fall prey to it so much that we stop to live, live in the true sense appreciating our relationships, lovely people around.

Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ~C.P. Snow