I was born in a world when blackberries and apples were just fruits.
Web was a thing spiders spun, and net was something you caught a fish with. Hardware was hammers and nails and saws you worked with, and software was never heard of.
Insects: Rams, spiders, blue-rays and bugs were all living creatures. (Some of them creepy and crawly). And the ‘Trojan horse’ was just a chapter in history books. I do not understand how they made their way into tech-textbooks.
Blue tooth? Can you imagine a more novel name? How would you look if you smiled with one blue tooth? I mean, it’s a gadget you wear on your ear and talk with your hands flung around to air as if you were schizophrenic. It could have been called a ‘hearing-phone’, ‘ear-phone’… anything. But BLUE TOOTH? And it’s hardly ever ‘blue’! Tell me, how does ‘tooth’ explain hearing?
GPS: My life has become complicated ever since. And then came the gypsy… oops, GPS. I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside that gadget was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every ten minutes, she would sarcastically say, “Re-calculating.” You would think that she could be nicer. I felt she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light… And then if I missed the turn, like that intolerable teacher in my geography class, she would grunt, “Re-Cal-cu-lating”… Well, that is not a good relationship.
Cell Phones: I was barely getting used to TV remotes, when a cell-phone entered my life. They were almost the same sizes then and looked pretty much alike. I would often tell my husband to ‘Pass me the remote’ when my cell-phone rang. And picked up my cell-phone to change channels. Thankfully, now cell-phones have become smaller and remotes larger, (for some incomprehensible reason!), and I am spared of the agony of screaming: “Hello! Hello!” pressing the TV remote against my ear.
Twitter: I thought I had become quite tech-savvy when I had my own Facebook and Twitter accounts. But then suddenly you had Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix thrown at you! Hide! Cover! I need a place for cover!
Bags: The world is just getting too complex for me. Even in the remotest corner of earth, I get cell-phone signals. Hell! I am tracked! They know where I am, what I am doing! They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could decide on it, but at the counter they (humans who bear a tad semblance to small robots) suddenly ask, “How many bags?” letting you know slyly that you have to pay 5c for each.
I am confused. I look at the quantity of grocery and mumble, “Five”. How could they expect me to understand how many bags would it need to fit in all that grocery? What if I needed another bag? Would I have to stand in the line again? Would I pay 5c in coins, or would they accept my card? I am so afraid of making a fool of myself that I never tried to find that out. Stuff in whatever you got in there, woman, and RUN!
Beeps: The world of technology can never be complete without a beep. Whenever I hear a beep, I panic! I frantically look around! What did I do? Where did I go wrong? It’s either that I’ve forgotten my microwave or something is burning in the oven; or I haven’t tied my car-seat belt; or I have missed my train in the subway; or the smoke alarm is about to go off! The scariest of them all is the smoke alarm. It makes me feel guilty for roasting or grilling some good food. And then there’s the fire alarm which is the Big Boss!!
These beeps in my life are constantly reprimanding me that I am not living my life up to their standards. The car beep starts shrieking the moment it sees me and won’t stop until my seat belt is fastened tight. I mean, I need some breathing space! And then when I am happy that I have fulfilled all the ‘beep’ rules… my Facebook chat window beeps!
Son’s Room: These days whenever I enter my son’s room, I have to look good. Brush my hair, dab a little lipstick, adjust my tattered home clothes. Why? Because he is always on Skype, chatting with someone. I walk in full view of a stranger from his laptop staring at me. “Who’s that?” “Your minder?” Every time I have to knock, peep, say, “Hello! Is anyone there?”, sometimes, even when the room’s empty.
Life was much simpler those days. We didn’t have cell-phones to carry to school, picnics or hang-outs. But our parents never panicked if we were a tad late. We never had computers and so friends were constantly hanging out. Laughing with each other, going shopping together, eying handsome men or beautiful women, reading books, romancing in the library…. It was all so charming.
With the world getting crammed up inside ‘tabs’ on a computer screen, most relationships are getting virtual.
Poke: The other day my son ‘poked’ me: no, not physically, but virtually, on Facebook, from his computer, sitting right next to me! I was :O
Sigh!! These relationships I share with technology around are simply falling apart!
Published in Generation Next newspaper, Nov 23, 2011 (Read it here)
By Kaberi Chatterjee