Musings / Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

RIP the Internet, gently suggested a headline. I didn’t read the article, but it made me wonder. I have known life without the Internet – but I will be the first to say that the Internet has made my life indeed better – materially. I have also benefited from its enormous reach – it helped me maintain friendships that otherwise would have deteriorated into nothingness. It has offered an extra dimension to life – indeed, my very job would not exist if it weren’t for the Internet. So yes, I welcome it, and if it ever died, I would say RIP -Return If Possible.

For some reason, I thought also of the times when I didn’t have a mobile phone. Oh yes! Those days too! Now, I have justified reason in feeling old, but really technology has advanced faster than I have aged. I remember long conversations on the fixed phone line in full range and vision of all in the family- but these days, I shut the door, move away from the window, and use my mobile phone only when I know no one can hear. Why is it so? I don’t know…since when did privacy become such an integral part of my life? It’s strange how we use the past limitations to impose fresh ones in our present.

And rewinding the tape further, what about those days when neither phone or Net existed? Those days when physical touch was the only means of ‘keeping in touch.’ That phrase! Like the word ‘sorry,’ ‘ keeping in touch’ is one of the most abused ones in the English language. What is touch? Impossible to define – so it seems if you look at the dictionary, which produces volumes on this one word. I will just take the first one:

1.  To cause or permit a part of the body, especially the hand or fingers, to come in contact with so as to feel: reached out and touched the smooth stone. 

And those days before the phone and the net were just that : you really had to reach out, and touch the other person. And isn’t touch the most intimate of human gestures? The most soothing? No wonder, I always feel peaceful when I think of those times. However much the phone has brought us closer, it has also pushed us away. The phone cannot be a medium for touch, although we can be ‘touched’ by what someone says on the phone, it is just that : words. The real physical art of human communication is what has died. And to that too, I would like to say Return If Possible. 

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