I have a typical love-hate relationship with technology. Though I am floored by many of its wonders like video-calling, GPS and my all-time favorite – a food processor, but at times I hate it for producing the robotic devices, rather devices which make us a robot, like smart phones or treadmills. For me, they are more like technological blunders.One of such blunder is: Kindle paperwhite, the e-reader device. I saw an advertisement in newspaper, “Gift your child the love of reading: kindle paperwhite for uninterrupted and distraction-free reading”.
Honestly, for me, nothing can ever take the place of books. That rusty but soft touch of the paper as you flip, stimulates you to read further. I love my book like my jewellery. Though a new title is added every month to my collection but there are some books which hold a special place, which I plan to leave as a personal treasure in my will to my favorite one. The musty smell of the pages, the earmarks and occasional tiny blots of tea or curry on the paper are like wormholes which take you back to the time when you last held the book. They are like small glimpses into our memory.
I can even chronicle my life-events around them. Like, Chitra Bannerjee’s Sister of My heart I had read the day I sprained my left ankle, Khaled Hosseine’s A Thousands Splendid Suns I devoured during a train journey from Delhi to Jammu, and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus I had pursued at IGI airport while waiting for a friend to arrive. I have a kind of one-night-stand with the books. The moment its first page is turned, it becomes my constant companion, to the showers, kitchen, and lift-lobby…till my fingers nest on its last page. This personal touch, connection, smell, and the liberty to leave an imprint, is missing in these electronic devices. The idea of introducing my child to the magical world of fairytale through an electronic device is an absolute horror to me. The romantic relationship between a book and its reader can never be kindled on a touch-screen reader.
Another such technological blunder rather an absolute irritation is the smartphone. Yes, this is the age of “technological anarchy” that even a daily bathing soap boasts of more nutrients than a bowl of nuts. Smartphones have killed the real conversation. In restaurants, in sidewalks, in shopping malls, in parks and even in the movie halls, I have often seen them, two quiet people, sitting together but not together. They no longer hold hands because they hold their oversized phones, their eyes no longer talk or reflect their deepest emotions because they are woozy with the glow of mobile phones. They no longer hug, they no longer fight, oh the curse of EMOTicons! now they don’t even write those love notes anymore.
Change is inevitable and a necessity; the progress of a society and economy is scaled by its technology. Isn’t that the reason we label the Harappans and the Egyptians as Great civilizations, but a forest-dwelling self-sufficient tribe is tagged ‘primitive’. But there are some characteristics or a certain way of life which must not be lost, must not be swapped, for it is this which holds the secret of our existence…..our happiness and our very ‘human-essence.’ Like ‘The Buggles’ lament the loss of the sweet old times in their song Video Killed The Radio Star. Technology has also killed the ‘we’ in us. It has killed those beautiful moments in which we celebrate our humanity. The world around me is getting ‘un-smarter’ and the machines growing ‘smarter’.
It is still not that late to pull out those earplugs, disconnect the Bluetooth and wave back to that old man whom you just crossed in the park, or tell your mother how pretty she looks in the new haircut and smile to the waiter who just pulled the chair for you. Lie down on the grass and watch the shades of the blue. Open the windows, do you see that rosebush by the hedge, go, smell the roses and see how beautiful it all looks. Yes, before the technology kills the radio star again, unplug the wire and re-plug your life.