Misguided Differential

Two weeks back, Red FM radio station of Mumbai interviewed a man who abandoned smartphones because he thought smartphones make people dumb. His theory was that phones are only and only meant for calling. Of course, I do not agree to that. Hopefully, most people won’t.  Also, his premise that people who use smartphones are dumb was not just stereotype but also projected false superiority complex which Indians generally tend to project when encountering anything that comes from WEST!

I have heard this number of times from other people, and this person was no exception as well, that today’s internet and smartphones have connected to people around the world but we don’t know who is there in our neighborhood. But isn’t it equally important to stay in touch with people with whom we have blood relationships and our childhood friends with whom we have spent the best years of our lives?

To quote an instance, after leaving school, I had lost touch with most of my friends as they moved out to different cities for their engineering and used to visit Ahmedabad only occasionally. When Orkut became popular in India, during final year of my engineering, I came across one of them and as the chain reaction triggered, I had most of them in my friends list. Eventually we managed a school reunion post completion of engineering. That was the first and the last school reunion we had in a large group – all thanks to Orkut. And thanks to applications such as Facebook and Watsapp, we all are still in touch and keep meeting each other whenever we are in town.

As long as staying in touch with neighborhood is concerned, it is important to understand that the social structure of our society has changed. Earlier, there was a lot of neighborhood awareness and communication with housewives present at home in large part of the day. In the times with double income households and demanding work environments for both, husband and wife, the sleep time is the essential time that people spend at homes. And most of the neighborhoods are homogenous with respect to the kind of people staying there. Hence, to blame it completely on smartphones is essentially unfair.

Technology is as good as the user
During my engineering, our humanities professor, in one of the lectures, picked up the duster and asked us, “What are the different ways I can use this?” First, and the obvious, answer was to erase blackboard. Somebody said – to play by tossing up in the air. Somebody said – to draw a straight line or a rectangle. Somebody said – as a paperweight. Someone said – to beat someone by throwing it.
While his objective of asking this question was a different one, but taking the same example in this context, anything can be used for good or bad. Now, just because majority of people may use the duster to beat someone, I shouldn’t stop using it to erase blackboard.
Morphine can be used as an analgesic and a narcotic as well. Nuclear power can be used to generate electricity to lighten up an entire city as well as to destroy the same city. AK47 can be used to defend your country as well as to kill hundreds of people. It is up to you how to use it.
What I couldn’t understand is the logic of abandoning something which is perceived to be misused by majority.

Doing different is good…. But does it make sense?
We, as humans, always aspire to do something that gets us recognized in the crowd. But often, rationality goes for a toss, in that process. Abandoning smartphone is something nobody does and people will see you as a very unique person today, if you do that. But one question you need to ask is – does it make sense?
There is no point if I boast about going against the tide just for the sake of it when I know that it will push me 10 years back in time. If you want to be even more different, you can abandon cell phone itself and go back in the landline era. If you want more, abandon the phones altogether. Do all your communications through post or F2F. There is no end to it, theoretically.

Lack of knowledge – root of all evil
We tend to detest things that we don’t understand properly. This can be due to lack of proper information on how to use it and generally misuses reach to us more easily than uses. And when we see misuses more than uses, we feel the thing is a piece of crap.
There are a lot many things which we can do with smartphones, besides just playing Candy Crush, that can ease our lives and make us more efficient. This might just be the tip of the iceberg.

Irrespective of what you do, people will evolve
Finally, irrespective of what you do, people, in general, will continue to evolve themselves with new technologies. New gadgets and new applications will keep getting launched. The ones which are useful to people, will be successful and the rest will die away. People will become more and more tech savvy as the time passes.
If you want to hate or mock people for that, you are the only one living with that hatred and mockery.


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