The greatest of all intruders is at it again! The smartphone has made it its business to totally disrupt our lives and make sure that we remain glued to it come what may. The unending levels of interest that it generates amongst us with dozens of eye-catching and mind-fixating features enable it to truly rule our lives.
What we have not been able to accomplish ever since its advent is to spend five quality minutes with our loved ones at a stretch. It insists on beeping, vibrating, tootling or blaring at the oddest of times, and actually all the time. So much so that there are rehabilitation classes in the West for those who are addicted to their smartphones. And in several countries the practice of ‘fubbing’ is so looked down upon that it is considered sacrilegious to fiddle with one’s phone whilst meeting someone.
In India we are at the beck and call (pun intended) of this masterful dictator. It seduces us with such unfailing regularity that we have no defence left any longer. Anyone who has a smartphone and can remain unattached to it is certainly a rare species. Most of us have this tendency to stare at it every few seconds and just can’t keep our hands or eyes off it. No apsara in the history of the world had been able to accomplish what this addictive gadget has. It demands attention, it catches us by the scruff of the neck, it compels us and it dictates terms to us.
One of my pals has three of them bulging out from his pockets whenever he walks in to our monthly coffee meet. The rest of us pull his leg and make unbridled fun of him but he does not flinch. He keeps keying in unending messages while the conversation is on and simply refuses to mend his ways. In fact last month he even explained to us how he juggles between his three smart ‘girlfriends’ and how he still manages to keep his better half in good humour. It seems that his wife has never complained about his zany ways. We are sure that the man practices witchcraft and somehow hypnotises her into believing that he spends constructive time every day with the smarties!
What then can be done? Can we rein in this monster, harness its indefatigable hold upon us, and somehow outsmart this smartest of gadgets? Make no mistake. Mankind has seldom encountered an adversary so irrepressible!
As I see it, we have to prioritise our lives a bit better. Do we truly want to know the latest on every little thing that goes on in the world, just so that we can brag about it before our peers? Do we really want to continually show off our collection of social media jokes to the detriment of some real time banter amongst friends? And just how important is that email which has just arrived into the confines of our inbox with a little twang or chime as the case may be?
Are all these shenanigans that the smartphone plays on us truly worth it? Not really. That morning email can mostly wait till noon to be answered. The news of a roof collapse in Guatemala can surely wait till the next morning. And the admiration of the creativity behind that crass joke can surely be left to the ambit of a friend once in a while!
Easier said than done? Truly and for sure. But then we ourselves are responsible for our own inner peace and the great destroyer of that peace just has to be put in its place! Let us try and switch off our phones for a few hours every day. Let us totally avoid using them while driving. And let us cut down on our texting by about fifty percent. That rose may smell even better if we do. That quiche may taste still yummier if we do. And the smiles of our children may seem still more beautiful if we do.
We are the ones who have to decide whether technology can be permitted to invade our minds so pervasively. Or are we going to turn the tables on it and show it who the boss really is?