Social Circuitry

“The 20th century has been witness to an umpteen number of technological advances.”

A rather cliched statement that has been etched forever into our history books. The creation of the vacuum cleaner in 1901 by Hubert Booth, the first powered airplane invented by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903, Henry Ford’s Model T in 1908. All precursors to the eventual zenith where Man finally set foot on zero gravity soil, of the little satellite that we’ve admired for ages, the focal point of a myriad childhood stories – the moon. Unleashing the Space Age in all it’s glory. In a sudden turn of events, however, the thirst for the stars suddenly dissolved into a downsizing process, almost to a microscopic level, all threaded together by the Internet and semiconductors. Microprocessors later paved the way to turn what was once a machine that filled a whole room, to one that could be assembled on a table.

The commercial computer had an unimaginable effect to the world en masse. Suddenly, we did not have to go to a library to find study resources. We did not have to turn on the stereo to play our music, we don’t even have to turn on our television anymore. With the air of downsizing still pervading the air, it’s a common sight these days to watch a TV show while waiting for the airplane to Delhi in the comfort of your palms. Enter, the mobile phone.

From a mundane looking device with a few buttons on one side and an antenna on top, it has transformed itself to a little wonderland that people often find themselves delving into during boring work hours and class lectures. It’s popularity and use so widespread that CNN Economy had a feature on how there were more Cell Phones in India than toilets, handing out fodder to cartoonists, comedians and the inevitable internet memes.

As much as mobile phones have had an impact on an individual, it is with the social groups as a whole where the effect is much more pronounced. A group of friends, perhaps, sitting together in a room, tend to whip out their smartphones and begin the imperative ritual of replying to old texts and indulging in facebook when they could be having a conversation together. Sometimes, parties themselves can turn itself into a massive question of cell phone etiquette with a number of people just sitting in the corner with their eyes glued to the phone screens. Of course, the question of phone etiquette have never surfaced till recently. The phone stack is a devious little piece of social engineering that masquerades a bar game – Where each person who comes into a dinner or party place their phone on top of each other and resist all alerts and phone calls.

Be with the friends who are here (Image courtesy : Reddit)

Of course, there is the argument that cell phones are a necessity when it comes to emergencies. But when we tend to indulge on them incessantly, the urgency reduces. We often find people updating their status as they run and save themselves from a fire, an exaggeration so it may be.

Is there no fun in living in the moment anymore? Is there no fun in being with the friends who are there with you at the same time? There surely is, and as far as humans are concerned, technology can never replace what comes naturally to us. There is a different kind of feeling when you stream a football match online and watch it alone on your tablet as opposed to being one with the electricity of the crowd of friends and watching it together. Technology, with all that it has given to us, will never replace the exuberance of life. For in reality, technology is simply a gift to ourselves as much as anything. For it is human interaction that gives us the feeling of liveliness, and nothing more.