It was a morning session, aimed at orienting students to our startup and the methods of career counselling. This was an International school. We got into an intense discussion of how to recognise one’s interests, and how to decide whether to pursue a career on the basis of your interest. Just then there was a phone ringing in the room. It wasn’t mine or my crew’s. And this girl got up almost naturally looking at her ringing phone and politely excused herself. Although it’s just been 8 years since I finished school, this was truly unthinkable for me. I made a mental note:
- She was 11th grade and she had a phone. (which is nowadays very common)
- She got the phone in her school and class.
- Her phone wasn’t on silent mode and when it rang, there was no horror or embarrassment on her face (which generally is the case with decent people). Nor did any of the other children react to it.
- She decided to pick up the call, did not seek permission but excused herself.
I want to be the super-cool person here and say that I understand this behaviour and every generation has their way of living. But I can’t. Although, it’s not like this is new and only in our generation. This one time I went to a friend’s place after a long time and were talking about things. He asked me if I checked this particular event on Facebook. I said I wasn’t on Facebook anymore.
He: What? Really? You quit Facebook too? (It’s been 2 years since I quit Whatsapp.)
He: But why!
Me: Just like that. It was distracting and unnecessary. I thought I’ll go back to it if I have a strong urge. But I haven’t yet.
He: Oh, you must totally talk to my Mom about this.
Just then his Mom came with coffee and snacks. She’s a very affectionate and lively person.
He: Ya..so what were you saying? Mom, look at her, she’s not on Whatsapp and she’s not even on Facebook anymore. Learn something from her.
His Mom: O Really, that’s great.
Me: Not really. I realised it doesn’t work well for me. It is different for me.
He: Areee, over here, whenever you enter the house, you see her on phone. All the time, playing candy crush, doing WhatsApp, this that.
Me (laughing): Wow, you seem to be really annoyed of seeing your Mom do the same thing that’s a regular thing for most of our generation.
One of the worst things I have experienced is when we go for a pitch. You’ve travelled like 1000s of kilometres for a meeting that is going to decide whether your company moves forward or not; this is important for you. And when you begin presenting, you see one or more of the investors constantly on phone or iPad. It hurts. One of the Ahmedabadi popular investors is known to be constantly on his iPad, even when he is speaking, his eyes are on it. Although this is still fine because they are Investors, the people who have money, so everything is okay for them.
People are waking up with their phones and sleeping with them. One of the biggest arguments on the bed these days is about the use of phones before and after sex. It is definitely one of the most disrespecting things to do in an intimate moment. But we are getting past that too. We hear couples openly taunting each other amongst friends about how ‘he/she’s always on phone’.
Clicking Selfies, Tweeting/Posting on Facebook, then looking at the likes, comments, especially the hate comments, framing a reply, typing a reply- we have taken these things as full-time jobs while our full-time jobs have become part-time activities that fill up our bank accounts.
Merely liking the aunty’s comment on your picture (U luk beautiful!) is rude. You must write, ‘Thank You, Aunty’ with an appropriate smiley.
There’s an interesting book called, ‘Opium’ (afeem in hindi) by Jean Cocteau where the author talks about his own experience of opium addiction, his time at the asylum and struggles of getting out of it. It has a beautiful line,
“If you hear someone say: ‘X…. killed himself smoking opium,’ you should know that it is impossible, and that this death conceals something else.”
This analogy is not an exaggeration. Constant notifications and the urge to check your phone without any reason means an abnormal hormonal upsurge. This hormone is called Dopamine. Internet and Smartphone is becoming an actual mental disorder. If you say you are distracted, unable to concentrate or have people around you always complaining, begging for your attention; it’s just a symptom. Your phone is the cause. When was the last time you gave someone your undivided attention? Keep a self-check in the next meeting and see how long can you be without your phone. Dare yourself and be ready for a surprise.