Something, somewhere has gone terribly wrong, I thought as I entered my house. I found everyone speaking to each other. “What’s the matter”, I asked with raised eyebrows. “WiFi is down for the last half an hour dad,” my son replied with a bored expression on his face. That’s it. Otherwise in this day and age, who has the time for others?
The other day I attended a wedding in the family. On the dining table, everyone seemed to relish the delicious spread but some were constantly checking their mobiles. To my surprise I found even the bridegroom engrossed in his phone. I wondered whether he has the guts to tell his wife, “I need you more than the Wi-Fi.” After partaking the food everyone sauntered on to the lawns. It was a pleasant night with the moon playing hide and seek. Yonder a few elderly men pulled chairs and got into a animated conversation. But most guests got busy with their mobiles. Weddings are occasions to chat and update oneself on the family details. But smartphones play spoilsport.
I consider myself lucky to have had a childhood before technology overtook it. My brother’s granddaughter is a toddler but she wouldn’t sleep without watching rhymes on a mobile. Right from an infant to a sexagenarian everyone is a prisoner to it. That’s why it’s a cell phone. These days you can’t trust tiny tots with your mobile. They may be still lisping but all they need is a few seconds to delete pictures, place calls and download a game. William Wordsworth was right: Child is the father of man.
Recently I saw a sanitary worker busy clearing a clogged drain. He was up to his waist in the slush but when his mobile tinkled; he paused to answer the call. When I narrated this to my wife she said it was nothing and told me an incident even stranger. Our neighbour, she said, was fretting and fuming when the housemaid didn’t turn up. In a rage she picked up the phone and rang the maid. The latter coolly replied she had already updated her status on Facebook.
Who said we are using technology? We are living it. While discussing this, my doctor friend recounted the case of a woman who complained about excessive sleepiness. Try as she might she couldn’t remain awake for long. “What did you prescribe?” I asked. “Nothing. I just enquired which phone she was using. When she said it was a basic model, I told her to get a smartphone and install Facebook and WhatsApp. Soon she will beg for sleep,” my friend remarked. A good servant but a dangerous master—that’s technology.
J S Ifthekhar