Every now and then, I wonder, with the boom of social networking sites, the e-mail revolution, job sites and more, is it possible for anyone to really disconnect any more? There was a time, about a decade or so back, when e-mail was a novelty, atleast to the likes of me, when letters were written with the precious effort needed to glide a pen over paper in various shapes, envelopes, stamps, postcards, inland letters and such were laboriously sourced from the closest post office, and then written letters were actually dropped into a letter-box, and we hoped and prayed the letter would be delivered at the desired destination. Ofcourse those were also the days that a single 'speed post' from Bombay to Delhi would take over 7 days for delivery. And yet, they were nicer, simpler, easier days. Atleast that is what I think.
I cannot live without a cell phone now, I know it. Well, technically and medically I will be alive, but not practically. I don't think I remember a single phone number verbatim, its so easy to just go to the contacts list and dial, and all numbers are so conveniently stored there. And my new phone has provision for over ten numbers per person, there are various categories of mobile phones, landlines and such. While it does make life convenient, I also think it makes me extremely dependent. If I am in an emergency situation, where my phone is dead, I will be unable to contact anyone, simply because I don't know their number, even though I maybe calling them up every other day. I cannot even term it as funny. Worse still is the fact that one can never be alone, or in peace. The mobile usually ends up becoming a physical appendage to most owners, glued to their bodies at all times, and making them available to answer calls at all times of the day or night. I still remember the absolutely abhorred, calls advertising some scheme/product/card I used to get on my phone almost each evening, just as the local would draw into my station, and I would be ready to battle to get my foothold into the ladies compartment. All tensed and ready, the phone would be heard ringing, not knowing who it is, I would dive into my bag, find it, and the caller would be advertising some godforsaken thing, and by the time this happened, the compartment was packed, and I would wait another 15-20 minutes for the next train to come. So basically one with a mobile phone is never alone, unless you step deep into the jungle, or places that have now come be to defined as 'no network coverage zones'. One could ofcourse switch off the mobile, but even the mention of such a proposition would lead to a multitude of horrific gasps, because we can no longer imaging being 'unreachable', that I think has become the new 'untouchable'! Our cell phones are there with us during work, play, sleep, vacations, travel and even during potty-time.
E-mails brought in a revolution like none other. Post offices started closing down, because their services were no longer required, e-mails meant instant connectivity, no more waiting for the intended receiver to receive the post, this was all instantaneous, just like the lightening speed world needed. Being in communication with people overseas, was no longer about expensive calls, or huge amount of stamps, it was just about a practically free e-mail. How simple is that? Even offices no longer required things on paper, just an e-mail was enough, to confirm a tender, an employment, a resignation, a report, an appraisal, pretty much everything. On the social front, the mails led on to chats, which expanded into audio and then video, and then came in social networking sites. So may things, so many ways to be networked, connected, in-touch. So addicted are we, that vacations are no longer vacations, vacations translate into more relaxed time to do leisure networking, and we cannot think of being without our mobile, Internet connection or laptop. And with the easy connectivity, somewhere I believe the quality of our communications have fallen. Why bother with actually composing a new e-mail, when a simply scrap or wall-message would do? We end up sending a private messages on public forums, just because its easier, and for all the claims of making life easier, somewhere it just takes away from our commitments and efforts at maintaining and respecting our relationships. Having over a hundred friends on facebook, I think there are barely fifteen or twenty of those, I do actually count as friends, the rest don't matter to me, and nor do I to them.
And yet I am glued, as are many of you. Checking mails at all times, the twitter updates, or the blog comments, the facebook feeds. I think I am more stressed for all these reasons than relaxed. It makes my life more jumbled and confused, it is obviously taking its toll on my poor eyes, and the mind which can never ever just simply shut itself down, because I don't let it. So what is the point in all this? I can access a lot more information more conveniently than before, and it can be a huge blessing, as I have learnt from pregnancy and new-mum days. And yet the stress, the over connectedness, the lack of being able to be completely free, it gets to me too. At the end of the day, I am not sure if all these amazing revolutions have actually improved the quality of our lives or just given us more to handle on our platter, leaving us more stressed than before.