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OP-ED: Not so smart now, are we?

  • Published at 09:13 pm June 6th, 2020

Have smart phones altered all forms of friendship, love, and affection?

The spread of coronavirus and its nefarious fangs have changed our worldview and our social interactions in the most profound of ways. A picture followed by comments on social media sparked my energy to pen this article. 

It enticed me to add my perspective on human bondage and transformation during a Covid-19 gripped world. First of all, I must say we are dreaming a bad dream and the bad will ooze out and a new sunshine will cast its luminous glow on us. The urge to save humanity must continue its unfettered journey. 

Enough of my monologue. Let me jump into unfolding my stream of consciousness now. I am in the spirit to share my bolts of linguistic energy before it wanes or fritters away. Sorry, no more digressing. 

I wanted to encapsulate my thoughts around the picture that led me to write this article. In the picture, two persons are lying on a bed facing away from each other. The atmosphere is heavy, lacking a feeling of pleasure and more like a period immediately after a heated argument between lovers. 

The caption was something about how life has turned us into human beings shelled in our own walls without the smart phone. 

Our lives these days circle around the smart phone and, without, it many seem too restless. 

We have almost forgotten the glorious old ways of reaching out through face-to-face communication with our partners and family members at home. 

Strange mutations have taken within our behaviourial patterns, likened to the mutations that we hear about in the coronavirus.

While they are two worlds apart, the analogy is ripe with a reality that we exist upon these days.

To cut my reasoning short, mundane and glitzy views and perspectives seem to have overturned our lives. 

With the madness to conquer everything within our grip and beyond, we, the so-called civilized human beings, have been on a perennial gold chase for glitter and fancied more riches, glory, and power. We took nature for granted and feasted upon it most rapaciously. And then nature revolted.

Returning to smart phones, these smart phones have made us un-smart through the ways and behaviour that we have developed centering around it. 

We are no longer the “old selves” of mirth and merry but have rather dispossessed our abilities to conjure up friendship and bonds without these technological gadgets. 

Indeed, they have also changed our lives in many domains but they have also taken our footprints away for good-natured, old-style addas and gatherings with nothing but friends and relatives, musing away in friendly banter. 

Those were the times for true friendship to blossom, friendships that lasted a lifetime. Now, friendships have somewhat taken a different turn and there are digital friends galore. 

Call it “technology friends” or whichever term you wish, the fact is that these friendships are tenuous and not etched in stone. 

I long for the friendships that we formed in yesteryear when no tech savvy tools were available other than the mundane phone (which often was out of order). 

Fast forward two decades and now we are gripped by smart phones and Facebook and cocooned in their beguiled influence while they rob us of our social interaction skills. Our laughs are no longer heartfelt but come about through digital icons and digital channels. They seem to evoke the same feelings, but the comparison fails by miles. 

Have smart phones made us smarter or robbed us of our social skills? Have smart phones altered all forms of friendship, love, and affection or have they only made cosmetic changes to these age-old feelings? 

These are million-dollar questions that, perhaps, our progeny will dwell upon, research, and arrive at stellar findings.

I raise these thoughts for all to ponder. Perhaps the coronavirus period may work as a re-awakening phase for all of humanity. Shall we learn something crucial on human bonding during these trying times or simply forget and live to see a new future continuing with the learning, unlearning, and relearning curves? 

Time will tell, but presumptions and hypotheses are welcome now and we can tally later if nature allows us to live to that day. 

Ziaur Rahman is CEO, IITM and Advocate.

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