I miss my friends.
Some of them are right here in Pune, but they might as well be keeping my other friends company in Mumbai, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Frisco, among other cities.
Was a time when my friends were around the country, but I could write a letter to them. We would likely meet once a year, maybe once in two years, but I felt close to them.
Today I can pick up the phone and call them any time, day or night. But there’s no skirting around it: I miss them.
I miss my family: the family of siblings, relatives, friends, their siblings/relatives/friends, and close acquaintances that I grew up with.
Most of them are spread all over the world, like they always have been.
We used to meet on weddings, naming ceremonies, summer vacations. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents … the whole jing bang or as many as could make it. The venue used to shift like a travelling circus, so we saw a good bit of the country as well. Delhi, Benares, Shimla, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Pune.
Now, we pick up the cellphone and call each other on important occasions and send e-cards. Worse: we wattsapp or write on FB timelines.
What is it that people keep saying? Ah yes: the world is a global village; it’s a small world; communication technology has broken down barriers of distance; everything is a click or dial away.
It’s likely that people who believe such things have probably never stayed in a village. Villages are community-oriented, close-knit.
And I love communication technology for what it’s done for us. And I hate communication technology for what it’s done to us. It’s just a click away, so why go there?
There’s a lot to be said about traditional industries – they still believe in face-to-face personal meetings. In fact, they don’t do business any other way. And that’s what gets people closer. And when people talk face to face, they can see each other, read body-language, expressions, therefore read into intent, motive, and are not just dependent on words; more over, they build a shared sense of the meaning of words. They employ communication strategies such as humour, wit, sarcasm, ire, deadpaning, poker faces, contemplation … list goes on. In such communication models, it’s a two-way process at the minimum, with many others weighing in from time to time but in a gist: it’s about hearing, listening, assimilating, connecting, expressing, talking, discussing, debating, and communicating effectively.
With technology, communication is simpler since it cuts through all these layers of shared understanding mechanisms, and zooms in on the only available strategy: media types (audio, video, text, visuals). And therefore, communication is that much more complex. It’s mostly about receiving stimuli and expressing.
But I take my cellphone and Facebook with my lunch and dinner, so who am I to be cribbing?
But that other part of me? The one that misses his friends and family? I fear that side of me maybe a dying breed. And I wonder what will happen to me then?