Guest Post by Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Writer and Diplomat
I typed ‘good morning, have a great and satisfying day’. Then sent it. I got a reply ‘don’t patronize me’. I got angry and wrote back, ‘don’t brutalize me’. Then got back to my bed and threw away the phone. ‘Bloody hell, I belong to myself today’, I shouted to myself.
It could have been a perfect day. It had the right recipe for romance. Cool air, mild sun and right temperatures. One of the last days of this ‘warmest’ winter in Delhi’s life. A weekend with no interruption of a parliamentary committee, invite for a friendly concert or optional yoga classes intimated through an order, looked like a boon. But that was only until I decided to mess my day. And mess I did !
I could have slept till 9 am, but I seem to have lost the ability to relax. Probably we need a manual as to ‘how to manage the art of getting up late on a Sunday morning’. Like a century old habit, around 7.30 am, my hands stretched out towards the specs and the phone at the same time And the deluge began – of issues of no consequences to me or humanity. Like a driver loosing control of the wheel, my morning slipped away and people only remotely connected to me gained control.
Opening of ‘WhatsApp’ was enough. Like the Niagara waterfall, messages cascaded and descended. Groups of people and connected individuals both known and unknown streamed in. In the comfort of my bed and blanket, an entire spectrum of people surrounded me. In some forgotten weak moment, I had admitted them by ticking some box or accepting some invite. Others had graciously co-opted me for having committed the crime of belonging to the same school, organisation or city.
My day now inevitable begins thus. On the screen the dance begins and like a child in the toy shop I get drowned in its play. It has now reached a boiling point. For the last few weeks, a sense of fatigue and distaste has been brewing towards the internet universe. It is eating into my time, energy and resources.
So, on Sunday morning, I exited from groups that offer nothing but forwards. I went to settings and blocked notifications, location suggestions, events found in apps, besides blocking people who send the same messages in a group, and repeat as a personal message!
In some groups where I would like to stay I asked, “Am I the only one who wants to prevent members from posting videos, forwards, quotations and clips?” I got no response. In one group I was advised that these postings are educative, inspirational and entertaining. Others asked me to be patient. In one I protested, “I will leave unless we stop this nonsense”. There was a stoic silence for a few hours, and then the trickle renewed.
People seem to have lost their sense of proportion. Interactions are losing quality and an age of ‘impressionists’ has begun. This artificiality of relating to each other through verbosity, ‘forwardosity’ and ‘instantisity’ through a click is upsetting. It has dehumanized and brutalized us.
I put away the phone. Opened all the windows after a long time, and for the next hour watched the beautiful triviality of the world outside. The gently swaying Peepal (sacred fig) trees, pigeons cavorting amorously, clothes drying on the line of a nearby house, and people in myriad shades and shapes walking around. I could hear the sound of somebody drilling a wall somewhere. I had forgotten birds in Delhi like to talk the whole day. It was enough enticement to venture out and touch life as it existed, off the screen.
I wandered through small lanes and touched trees and leaves. Had a hot chai (tea) at a nukkad (corner). Took a three-wheeler (auto-rickshaw) after ages, chatted with the driver about his tough but chirpy universe of family , village and small dwelling in a poor locality some twenty-five miles away.
The world is much more humane and real than it feels on the screen.What’s more there are real sounds and smells. My my..it felt so good! Simply superlative.
Now I refuse to get brutalized. And the screen will not dictate my life. Updating profile picture can wait till my batteries get charged.