The iGeneration is oblivious to life passing by

Now the weather in the city is suffocating, I know. It’s like a huge sauna. Most of us go running for cover indoors. But this generation is so health conscious, I still see joggers and walkers in the park. What I do see though is they are all on their phones. Or with headphones on, listening to music.

Hundreds of people, but the park still looks empty to me. Everyone is involved on their iPhone (I call it the idiot phone). It substitutes real interaction and the real world for the digital world. People caught in the ‘net’, oblivious to life passing them by. People who do not make eye contact, who prefer to be lost in their social media jungle.

For politicians and media moguls the social media sites make giant strides into peoples’ minds and hearts. If used correctly this is a powerful tool. But why has it made us so anti social?!

We would rather have 258 friends on Facebook and 200 likes... that makes us so so popular in our own eyes. It fuels that inner sense of power, so we keep on barring more and more of ourselves, hoping that figure doubles daily. Friend requests pour in and there is no discretion, one is greedy to be seen as a “successful grand public figure, doing brave things, conquering the world in huge doses”. What amazes me is how we believe all we see on Twitter or Facebook. This make believe world becomes real and the real world fades away. I have seen children who prefer to type not talk. Hey, what happened to the good old fashioned behaviour of “looking” into each others eyes and talking? The earth’s crammed with iPhones, iPads... iEverything. Are you looking for real love, for a marriage partner, for a house, for a car, for a dog, for a grocery story, for a secondhand television, for a hammer... just go online. Hone your needs and go “surfing”. Redefine your sacred space. You can even romance your daily chores with some Youtube sassy tunes. Or satisfy your wanderlust by pulling up Hawaii on the phone and believing you are ‘the’ Spice Girls on the beach.

It jumpstarts the imagination but shuts out interaction. Children would rather play football games on the phone than the real sport in the park. The real park with the broken tree stump, and the balding dried grass, with the wilted flowers is all but ignored by this generation of iPhone users. The park could be the airport lounge or the wilds of rural india. It would make little difference to those on their phones. I remember my grandfather telling me he had travelled all the way to Lumbini to take a “look”. At what, I had asked him? At the place where the Buddha had been... Those were the days when people opted to look at the world!

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)

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