Losing the human touch

Posted: May 1, 2011 in Facebook
Tags: , , ,

How technology has changed our lives! We remember birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other such dates, mostly because we see them mentioned on social networking sites that we frequent. If we don’t see them we probably won’t remember. But there was a time when we functioned better without technology.

Around twenty years ago, I was one of those who sent out greeting cards to people on every Diwali, Christmas and New Year. I had watched my mom and aunt do that year after year almost like it was a ritual. When I grew up, I too carried forward that tradition. I would send out cards irrespective of whether I received even a thank you. There would be some who would call and thank, but most didn’t bother. I really didn’t mind that, because I believed it was the thought that mattered.

Sometime in the mid 1990s – think it was 1995 – I decided not to send New Year and X’mas cards to anyone. I wanted to see how many people would remember that I hadn’t. Exactly three did! And those three called up to ask why. Since that year I stopped sending out greetings cards! Now in spite of the Internet, which makes life so much easier, I still don’t send out greetings because I believe that it is all so meaningless. I make an exception with birthdays. Of course, now with Facebook, we know the birthdays of half the world – at least those in our small world! So simple isn’t it, to type out those half a dozen words? There have been times, however, when some of the people haven’t bothered to respond. I guess, advances in technology notwithstanding, human behaviour will remain irrational!

Since I joined Facebook a few years ago I have steadily built up my friend’s list that comprise family, friends and students. I would invariably be greeted online on my birthday. Sometime, last year I decided to remove the mention of my birth date (March 29) from Facebook. I wanted to see how many people remembered. This time on my birthday I went to the college for a lecture and about half a dozen students wished me! The rest had no clue. Two of them I remember distinctly, because over the heads in the melee after a class they mouthed the words ‘happy Birthday’ to me. It’s nice of them to have remembered. A couple of childhood friends and a friend from Chandigarh, also sent me their wishes, but by and large no one knew. Let me be very honest, I wouldn’t remember birthdays unless I saw them mentioned on Facebook, so I didn’t expect anyone to remember mine. That’s how dependent we’ve become on technology!

However, this evening, technology took another strange twist. I suddenly thought of a journalist and friend I hadn’t seen on Facebook for a while. I read his tweets and his status updates regularly. He and I had gotten to know each other a little some years ago, when I was looking for a foothold in journalism and he was looking for a job out of Kolkata, and if possible in Pune. He was also looking for someone to proofread his book. I offered to go through it. I don’t know what happened to the book, but I dissuaded him from coming to Pune because there was nothing here for someone as senior. I didn’t know of his reasons then for taking such a step. I learnt about them sometime in November last year when we were chatting on Facebook.

In December and then in January I was caught up with my new job and we lost touch. This evening, I suddenly wondered where he was and searched for him on Facebook. I couldn’t find his page. Then something made me type out his name on google and the first link that popped up was a piece about him on a news portal that said, he had passed away following a cardiac arrest on January 22.

  1. Soumyadeep says:

    nice one sir !! thought provoking, but inspite of we ‘thinking’ about it.. can we really curb our dependency on Technology ? we can’t sir. we can’t.

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