The Unnoticeable Dead-ness of Technology

What would happen, if tomorrow, I threw my phone to the dogs, my laptop in the pond, and sold my TV to the scrap dealer? Quite simply, a life where I would not have much to do. When I’m bored, I put on youtube. When I’m lonely, I check mail and Facebook. When I’m restless, I write this blog. When these fail me, I telephone or message a friend to ask if we can meet over a drink. I go out for 3 hours, maybe 4 or 5, come back, and check Gmail and Facebook again. If I’m too tired, I just switch on the TV and let whatever mindless rubbish is on it play. Sometimes two politicians in a cockfight makes for good background noise in which to lie on the bed, stare at the ceiling and contemplate on life. Sometimes a mindless Bollywood song does the job.

What would happen if these things didn’t exist? I would find more people. I would relate more. When with them, I would have no phones in my pocket, no messages to send. I would look at them in the eye. I would feel their presence, a presence that would affect how I sit, eat, breath, something that a voice and face on Skype can never do. Something that a little chat window can never even minutely mimic. The real person would be in front of me, with much fewer facades than technology allows. When he would go away for a while, I would write him a letter, in my handwriting, on paper. There would be little chance to delete, edit and add between lines. When he would come back, I would be in his presence again. Perhaps we would give each other a hug.

The constrictions of technology seem to open new worlds, but apparently, they close our existing worlds. They numb our sense of separation from each other. If we can like someone’s picture on Facebook, send them a ‘hi’ on Whatsapp, e-mail them when there’s more to say, or call them up to hear their voice, we acquire an illusion of contact. Real presence cannot be mimicked by a screen or a voice through a speaker. Real presence is a real human being, warts and all, gifts and flaws, with all the scars of life, with the potentially unique beauty of who he is meant to be – all this right in front of you.

And what if my playlist didn’t exist, what if there wasn’t Youtube? I would sing the songs myself, I would hum them, whistle them, memorise them, find friends with who I can sing along. Go to live concerts, preferably without the paraphernalia of microphones and speakers. Real, live human beings expressing themselves not just in speech but in music. I would realise that a good song sung live, even with a simple guitar, touches me much more than the same song recorded in a stellar studio and played out from the speakers of my laptop, stereo, or anything else.

As every night I put on my computer before going to bed alone, I need to realise this more and more. Technology kills our connection to human beings, while pretending to be making connections.

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~ by tdcatss on December 23, 2013.

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