“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. – Steven Spielberg“
The other day I went to my bank branch for a cash withdrawal. Let me guess, last I visited the bank was approximately 3 to 4 years back. The sum I withdrew was a paltry four thousand rupees. You must be wondering, why did I take huge pain of visiting a bank branch reasonably far away from my residence to withdraw a small sum. I could have used my ATM card instead.
After I completed the cash transaction at the bank, the manager asked me if he could have a short chat with me. Not knowing the reason for his wanting to see me, I complied with his polite request and followed him to his immaculately furnished room. Entering his room, I ensconced comfortably on the sofa. He asked me if I would care for a tea or a coffee and anything to eat as well. I said I was obliged and expressed my sincere approval for luxuriating on a hot cup of tea over an equally invigorating conversation with the bank manager who seemed to be a learned man of 40 years or thereabouts. I was equally curious to hear what the manager had to say to an older man that I was. Without inhibitions he opened the conversation like he might have on numerous previous occasions. I suppose he did not want to make it very formal and therefore in a casual manner he asked me some general stuff about what I did for a living. I replied ‘I am an author’. He appreciated my avocation and almost immediately launched himself into a kind of a sermon about how advanced the technology is these days that one need not toil too much for any of the regular transactions, including banking. Today you can order anything online from grocery to medicines, from diapers to mobile phones etc. Moreover, it is hot and sultry outside, would you not want to accomplish all your tasks sitting in your home?’
‘Yes, that is true’ I said.
But he cut he short and intervened ‘I understand that there was no great technology when you started your career, but today everyone is using technology to make one’s lives better and comfortable.’
I knew he was right in eulogising the benefits of advanced technology and how it has made the lives of people so comfortable and easy like never before. I heard his talk for a while and appreciated his effort in making me aware of its advantages.
Further, he had the audacity to tell me, ‘as age catches on with you, you might not be fighting fit to do all the stuff on your own and that’s when you would want to adopt newer methods so desperately because life would seem to come to a standstill. Moreover, would you not want to save your time in buying a number of items all from various sources and looking out for them all over the market place. What guarantee you get when you buy physically as there may not be any returns after unpacking and single use.’
[ Also Read: Technology – Embrace it rather than feeling anxious ]
I could no longer stop myself as he had fired a full magazine at me. I could not withstand the barrage of unwanted sermons about not embracing technology enough. ‘Yes, that’s absolutely true’ I said politely ‘Look son, I am as comfortable with modern technology as you are, therefore save your sermons for other not so savvy oldies who might need your help. I have been using all the new apps and fulfilling all needs using online banking. My situation is a little peculiar in the sense that I am alone at home as my wife is long dead and my children are abroad who do not keep in touch. My job requires me to work 8 to 10 hours a day all alone and on top of it, if I do not get to meet and converse with people, how do you think I would survive the deep silence. I left home at 2 pm went up to my barber for a chat, came to the bank for yet another chat and on my way back I would stop at the neighbourhood grocery to enquire how that old man is doing. In a round trip, I would have groomed my hair, replenished my pocket with some cash and bought some grocery as well in a matter of two hours. I see this as opportunity and a reason to share handshakes, hear peoples’ smiles and learn about their experiences first hand.’
‘Technology is an enabler, do not make it an overlord and yourself subservient to it. Let it help and assist you in your daily life but not at the cost of destroying the basic fabric of human touch and feelings. In this world of Apps, you comfortably send emotionless thoughts rather than soft thoughtful emotions. You simply connect but don’t meet’n’hug. Many people I know who lead a silent life on their mobile phones, haven’t opened themselves up to a hearty nice and loud conversation in years. Do you realise what a life of reservation and silent existence can do to human psyche?
The bank manager understood each word of what I was trying to imply. In the end he agreed with the all-pervasive problem that the modern technology was leading us to. He asked me to visit the bank as and when I liked, not simply to transact but to indulge in a hearty conversation as well.