Remember a time before technology invaded our lives? (You will only know this if you were born before the 1990s). Remember reaching home after a long day out and enquiring “any messages/calls for me?”
Jeez, I still have old diaries where messages like “So and so madam called and said to call back after 8 pm”, or “so and so Sir called and said tomorrow’s recording is cancelled” have been hastily scribbled. Sometimes in fountain ink – remember fountain pens?!
I still preserve some of those diaries – touching the ink and inhaling the aroma of words once written. I’ll show them to my grand and great-grand kids one day. As a *once upon a time* whatchmacallit of wonder and peace.
Or start a paper museum and spend my old age explaining to new entrants in the world that after the stone age, where words were carved into stone, came the paper age where people wrote on wood pulp smashed into thin sheets or something like that.
While the kids probably press a chip on their wrist and have information transmitted directly into their brain or something like that, and wonder what the old geezer is rambling about.
Jeez! Remember pen friends? Where we waited for months to hear back from that friend in Australia or London that we had never met? When stamp collection was a hobby? Or when relatives travelled abroad and you held your breath anxiously for weeks waiting for a message from them?
Booked trunk calls and bellowed “Hello Hellooo HELLOOOOO” into crackling explosive static. Showed off when your phones had STD and ISD while some other mere mortals had only local dialling facilities?
Remember the fax machine? Jeez! It had seemed so hip and happening then. The wonder of sending written information instantly over a machine – that too to America and Australia! Jeez some miracle no?
And even after the advent of the internet for a longish while, emails were not considered as official correspondence. It had to be fax – with original signatures. And none of those U’s and Ur’s and 2’s. Words had to be in full and spelt correctly or you were deemed illiterate and dumb.
Sometimes I long for the genteelness and privacy of those times. Before social media took over every minute of our time and I like a billion others felt compelled to share our every thought for the whole world at large.
Like “just ate a peanut butter sandwich. Yum Yum”.
A time where our stupidity was not up for posterity. Where our mistakes could be buried under the mud and a Like button was not a measure of one’s self-esteem. Where we had real people to talk to and flesh and blood to embrace. Where play meant going outdoors and not a game station.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer in tech. I do totally believe the internet has made the world a better and more equal place and is indeed the spread of universal consciousness. Even if that consciousness is brainwashed by misinformation and falsehoodssometimes.
Jeez! I’m such a believer I even see my Ganesha in the fourth letter of Google or even the first. Don’t see it? Look closely at the squiggly under the fourth alphabet of the word Google, the second g. What do you see? Now flip it over- now even the first G looks like an elephant’s trunk – doesn’t it? No?
Yes, however crazy that sounds what I mean is that I do believe Google knows everything. In my humble piety and restricted vocabulary and zero knowledge of the world, I leave it all to Google. Jeez, I couldn’t even write this piece without checking a few words on Google, Yahoo is useless though – the Y looks to me like a malfunctioning uterus – much like their search engines behave.
And while my pouts are not hot enough for Insta, Facebook and Twitter are fun because they are non-invasive and so have to be done. It’s so much madness. Like talking to a wall – in all this mayhem I’m having quite a ball. Especially because I prefer typing to talk, where I can make it crisp and short.
But it’s WhatsApp that gives me trauma. In the middle of the night and right next to my ear and first thing in the morning and repeatedly during the day. Makes me long to go back to that time, that once upon a time of less connectivity. The olden times, the golden times. The time when I had no WhatsApp woes.
While I have blocked half my contact list, the rest I simply cannot block. I have to deal with them in other aspects of my life and communication channels must be kept open. Group chats are the new jail and I am imprisoned by the invasions of the bored, classified as under:
1) The Goodmorning Genomes: Strangers and mere acquaintances who bombard you relentlessly with their good morning – “may your day be as beautiful as your smile” messages and memes. Dude if I wanted to hear a good morning from you every damn morning, wouldn’t I be waking up on the same bed or at least the same house or planet as you! Daaah!
2) The Moralistic Marm: The preachy upright aunties (yes, I don’t include uncles in this category because… well marm stands for the feminine… I think… will have to check on Google). The “if you love God more than anything pass this on, if you don’t pass this on you will have bad luck for the next three years” kind of bunkum.
3) The Wannabe Warblers: Assorted folk from different walks of life who sing awfully off-key and achingly boring cover versions of songs they upload on YouTube and feel compelled to share every single of those links with you on WhatsApp – “here’s my humble musical offering. Hope you appreciate” kinda bakwaas. Jeez are you serious? Did you even hear that back before you sent it out to all? Have you completely lost it? Uff!
4) The Career Contestants: The kind who send you a message about every little thing they do. Whether they write a blog, appear on TV or radio or even go to a party and take a selfie with that important person. These are the most putting off – only because of the aggression with which they self-promote.
5) The Serial Joke Broadcaster: They send whatever is sent to them to everybody on their phone list. Requests of “please don’t send me jokes and forwards” go unheeded because these broadcasts of their rubbish jokes are now second nature to them and they have no idea how to change their broadcast settings. When you ask them what it’s about, they reply with “don’t know. Got it so I forwarded it!”
6) The Drunk Drooler: The ones who send you sad /vicious stories when they are dead drunk. And very often the same sad gibberish many drunken nights in a row. Hmmm.
7) The Sleazy Stalker: The “so you were online at 3.15 am last night? How come?” kinda. Jeez dude. Why are you even clicking on my name to know what I may be up to at that time of the night. Main hi mili kya?
8) The Booty Caller: The “wanna meet tonight?” post-midnight messager. “No dude. Say hi to the wife.”
9) The Annoying Activist: All change in the world is in the hands of the activist or so they believe and hence they bombard you to death with petitions you must sign to save the world or dogs you must adopt if you ever want to fall in the “good human being category”. Some of these kind often have pictures of themselves with Narendra Modi or Sadhguru as their DP just so you take them seriously. Jeez… I mean seriously!
10) The Mums Mafia: Where every birthday or party invite or query is answered with at least 75 yes or nos. This gets better as the kids grow older though and frankly I dread the day I will no longer be on a mums group because my daughter will be old enough to look after everything herself and I will no longer be required.
It’s the only reason I continue to stay on WhatsApp and of course also for that cute guy whose online statuses I’m constantly checking myself. And for all of my friends who send me hearts and kisses and hugs for no reason at all.
And… because other than WhatsApp woes I have nothing in life to currently complain about – lucky me.