Am I allowed to be a little selfish in today’s column, please? I have a really important favour to ask of you this week, and I know you won’t disappoint me. I’d like to convince both your dil and dimaag that what I’m seeking is important. So please put the phone down and for once, let the newspaper hold all your attention for five minutes. Regular readers of this column are already aware of my aversion towards an obsession with gadgets, particularly cell phone, that we seem to be developing by the day. I’ve written in the past about how we just don’t seem to let go of our phone, even for a minute. We wake up to the alarm on the phone, and the first thing most of us do, sometimes even before we open our eyes properly, is to grab the phone and check it for messages, notifications, e-mails. The day starts with the phone in our hand, and the night ends with us scrolling through it, even after the lights are off. What the heck, the phone goes to the loo with us! If I were to ask you if you’ve ever felt a sense of panic and anxiety on realising that you may have left your phone somewhere, or that the phone battery is dying and you are not carrying the charger, your answer will be yes and we both know it. The extent to which our right hand’s fingers are constantly bent at an angle to hold the phone, I sometimes feel our future generations will be born with curved fingers.
Last week, I went for a brief vacation and while checking into a resort, I observed how every tourist’s first question to the hotel staff was about wifi availability. At tourists spots, most people were busy looking down into their phones or taking selfies, rather than admiring the natural beauty around them. In restaurants, people were into their phones again, chatting with virtual friends and ignoring the real ones sitting with them. Despite several instances of accidents that have happened when we are texting while driving or walking on the road, you can still spot people with one hand on the steering and one on the phone. Anyway, the fact that we have become a slave of the phone isn’t something you don’t know already. What I’m proposing is this. How about liberating just 60 minutes of this slave every week? Don’t start shaking your head already, yaar. I know technology is important. I know cell phones give you company, keep you in touch with friends, let your parents and boss and boyfriends and girlfriends know that you are safe and alive etc etc. I’m not criticising this biggest invention of mankind. Aap kaho toh mein cellphone ke pair chhoo leti hoon, but please think about this. A week has 10,080 minutes. I’m only asking for 60, where you completely UNPLUG yourself from any gadget. Choose the day and hour that you like, but in that one hour every week, do not touch your phone. Go for a walk, talk to someone in front of you, read a book, do whatever. But resist the impulse to check on the phone. Trust me, no earth-shattering harm will come to your work or love life by not being accessible for just an hour. That hour will be your ‘Me Unplugged’ hour. Mine is every Thursday, 5-6 pm. I already know what your devil mind is thinking, Einstein. Raat ka time nahi chalega. It has to be an hour of your waking time, so no over smartness, okay?
I’d very keenly look forward to hearing from you to know how you spent this unplugged hour, and whether it made any difference — positive or negative — to your life. I know I’m being pushy and trying to hard sell but the ‘Me Unplugged’ campaign means a lot to me and if my column has ever touched your heart even in the smallest way, I want you to do this. My lovely team at htcity has already promised that they will, and I’m eternally grateful to them for it. Visit the Me Unplugged page on Facebook (facebook.com/sonalkalra.unplugged) and share your thoughts and ideas on how best to utilise this gift of 60 minutes. Sixty minutes that your hand, eyes, neck and heart will always thank you for.
(Sonal Kalra wants to thank one of the most regular readers of this column – Mohit Bhandari – for being the creative force behind the Me Unplugged movement. She should send him an SMS right away. Oops! Mail at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.)
Read:C’mon, don’t keep it inside