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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

When smart phones turn stupid

Last week was the longest week that my city has seen in all the years I’ve lived here. What with the (in)famous Patidar rally that led to violence that led to a ban on mobile internet and Short Messaging Service that till today, seven days later, has not been lifted. Hooray for democracy and all that.

Although the ban is naturally a huge inconvenience to business and life alike, it has its amusing bits. For instance:

1. Your smart phone turns into a bit of a dummy. It just sits there, not beeping, not enticing, and magically not running out of battery. It is suddenly no longer necessary to have it with you at all times, all day long. It gets so eerily quiet that if you’re like me, you may even forget it at home for the first time since you bought it. Poor thing, it’s been highly ignored if not scorned in frustration these past few days. It’s lonely as hell. As are we all, what with no WhatsApp messages, no text messages, no emails. Of course, we all get a few calls, but the thing about calling is that people don’t do it as much as they text, usually because it:
a) costs money
b) takes up more time, and – most notably -
c) requires you to have something at least vaguely substantial to say.
(Of course, we do occasionally call up our friends and literally go on about nothing at all, but that happens at most once a week, not five times a day, at least provided that you’re anywhere near remotely sane and have a life to live.)

2. Your younger cousins/nephews/nieces/ anyone who doesn’t know or has forgotten the pre-internet, pre-smart phone era, kind of freak out in a really funny way. It’s like their lives lose most functionality and they’re restless and friendless. For a change, however, they’re not sleepless. Because when there’s nobody to text or nothing to browse late into the night, sleep is all empowering, the greatest pleasure, the only respite. You dream of waking up to the world as you knew it before this whole technological calamity. But of course, you don’t. And the uncertainty, the excruciating wait continues.
Those who are particularly desperate stay up till midnight, on edge, hopeful that maybe, just maybe, services will resume and they’ll be the first to know, but when that doesn't happen, sleep is the only option. Apart from calling customer care and nagging/berating them to resolve a situation that they can do absolutely nothing about. :P  

3.  When you take a photograph, just one is suddenly enough. What are you going to do with ten different selfies anyway? There’s no Instagram to beautify them, no Facebook to show off your pretty pout, no WhatsApp to spam your friends. Your photos will just sit there in your dummy phone and what good is that when photos are meant to be shared, tagged, liked and commented upon at length? You would much rather use your time sitting at the computer, pretending to work. At least broadband still works. You can scroll through Facebook. Perhaps there is some news update about when the damn ban will be lifted.
Well, tomorrow, most probably. With any luck and the blessings of all our various deities combined.

Meanwhile, the Patidars have taken to Surat. And if their leader is to be believed, they’re coming for the rest of the country too.