Saturday, 4 January 2014

Not The Flipside

Remember the time when there was just one transistor for the whole village; when people gathered around it to watch Sachin score a century or listen to the news on Akashvaani. The time when in order to give urgent news, good or bad, people rushed to send a telegram. The time when friends and relatives living abroad seemed so distant because contacting them was almost a herculean task. So much has changed since then. Communication technology has boldly taken steps and sprinted forward to surmount all the drawbacks that lured lousily in the past.
However, the prevalent trend shows that only Millennial have connected well with the technological advancements. Most of the Indian population is still oblivious towards the new technological advancements. Hence we often find gaps in the perspectives of different generations. I witnessed a similar situation when my father’s archaic cell phone finally became non functional.
 “All I need is a phone that allows me to receive and make calls.”- is what my father stated as his requirement. The Gen X seemed reluctant to embrace the new technology. Moreover, they despise the fact that the youngsters are always so involved in their phones. And no amount of explanation actually convinces them that it’s a lot more than just games and messaging that keeps people glued to their phones.
In order to make the situation a little smooth and to introduce my parents to ongoing trends, I got my parents a ‘Smartphone’. There were protests and a series of scolding accompanied with ideas on how the money could be put to better use. But I had succeeded, the phone was there and so were my efforts to teach them how to make their lives more comfortable.
The efforts started with my mother, it was like teaching a child to ride a bike. Every time she held the new expensive, shiny device in her hand, she felt that touch-screen would get scratches by her touch or too much tapping would spoil the phone. But she too soon got the hang of it. She was listening to a song and couldn’t remember its exact name. Through Shazam, the app, she was able to not only see the name of the film, artist and the recording studio but also the lyrics of the song and the alternate versions available. That’s when my Mom became a fan. She could save a lot of her time by just a few taps and slides. She saw cookery videos, heard motivational speeches and short stories and the social media gave her a glimpse of her children every day, which was a pleasant feeling for her living so far away from her children.
For my Dad, a physician practicing in a small rural village in central India found a plethora of possibilities in his new phone. Introduced to the Web MD app, he would just relax in his dispensary and see the advanced version of the medical drug that he refers to his patients. When he had to go receive my uncle at the station, he would just sit at home and enquire the current train status through an app, thus saving his time and efforts by not standing and waiting at the railway station. He clicked pictures of the places he viewed and meals he ate and sent them on the family group of the instant messaging application and thus none of us felt left out.
The epic performance of this magical device took place when my 6 months pregnant sister had gone for her USG (sonogram) in Victoria BC, Canada and my parents, who were sitting in their cozy drawing room without electricity in a small village in India, could see the live streaming of the foetus on their phone. It brought tears of joy to their eyes as they heard the nice doctor point out the head, hands and feet of their healthy grandchild. They soon took pride in showing off how they are so well versed with the charismatic inventions of the communication technology. They utilized it in ways better than I had ever expected them to.
Even though the endless debates are ongoing on how technology is taking over old ways and people do not have time for each other, I saw the contrary taking place in my home. The question arises, how difficult is it for the older generations to get accustomed to the ways of the younger ones? And I think if it is for the right reasons and with the right measures, it is achievable. Seeing my parents boast their little achievements, I realized, technology, in the field of communication, has proven itself to be a boon rather than a nuisance.   


Shubhi Dixit [ MBA Mass Comm] 
Media Blogger

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