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It sounded me like “You are an outdated person”.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