When you are inching towards the end of the seventh decade of your life, and there are two days before the year ends, you not only look back at the year , but years, decades and half centuries.
And somewhere you realize, that things have a habit of coming full circle. Where living in a society of humans is concerned.
As a child , like today, our lives were lived in compartments like home, school, sports and other activities. But interactions with other people were numerous.
Beside interacting in predecided ways at school and other organized places, we interacted with colony friends, neighbors, relatives , friends made in the pursuit of hobbies like music and sports etc. You did errands for neighbors without "documenting" the fact so to speak. Chit chatting with friends , arguing , fighting, ganging up, making up, consoling, celebrating were all things that happened in the natural course of living. You learned how to interact with friend's parents, elders, seniors, small kids , and even rank strangers. There was no TV, transistors were kind of looming on the horizon and were considered a huge luxury, if you had a telephone you were somebody, and by and large , you maintained your individuality in a world where very little was standardized , except, what constituted goodness.
Things were pretty much similar way into the late seventies, early eighties. Then came the computers and phones, and everything changed. In big cities, this kind of augmented, societies taking to the "flat" culture , in a big way.
You didn't know who your neighbor was. Everyone had a cell phone. People wore out index fingers tapping phone messages , which were earlier voice communications with instant responses and good laughs . If you forgot your house key, you sat on the landing staircase till someone turned up , while a neighbor's maid leaving the house gave you strange looks; where she lived, the neighbor would ask you in , offer tea or a meal , but then , they were old style, lived 7 to a room , and shared bathrooms, clothes and opinions.
You never really knew many relatives, and you basically exchanged standard polite greetings when prodded by parents on unavoidable social occasions. Your closeting yourself in a room to pour over a screen, was defined as individuality, work, he-is-like-that-only etc.
Then someone came up with the Internet, or Net. You started speaking on Mail, or with images on computers. People introduced a kind of club on the Net and called it by different names, where you met and spoke to unknown people, and thought you were being really smart. The Internet started happening on Phones .
Till Facebook happened, and those who went through life very happily with, say 25-30 very good friends , suddenly got documented as someone with 1000 "friends" and followers. Meeting few good friends over snacks and tea, a gossip session over a meal, or spending time listening to something new somewhere got replaced by people being wished with expressive punctuation, sending automatic greetings to all and sundry who were listed as your friends, and even fighting and abusing on the Net.
In an earlier life, when you didnt know something, you badgered the hell out of some folks and pestered them to explain, visited the library, borrowed books from folks who were friends of friends, and ended up making many friends , and perhaps a few enemies.
Today, you Google. Social interaction is zilch, and you lose out on learning about human aspects of information , unless of course you have the time to read through one million links thrown up by Google. Google will show maps, and a lady with an accent will tell you on your phone where to turn left or whatever, but it doesn't beat asking an old grandma in a rickshaw where some place was, she saying she is going the same way, and offering you a place alongside her, chitchatting with you, she ending up knowing your aunt, and then offering you and the rickshaw driver a banana each from her shopping bag , at the end of the ride before getting off.
Now that you have been so greatly individualized, you must learn how to communicate with others. The circle is complete.
A generous backslap has been replaced with standardized emoticons, a possible development of an ability to do verbal debates is replaced by Twittering and Facebooking, and the new generations are being taught how to interact with other humans. By Liking, Commenting and Sharing.
We did that individually, in real life, with flesh and blood people . Since decades. And have emerged with better perceptions of society and how to deal with humans.
Life clearly is coming full circle, with a big exception.
We used all our senses and lived.
Today's social media emphasizes majorly the sense of sight, and perhaps, at some point, hearing. With an ability to keep someone's response at bay. And so we have lost our sense of reacting to people.
Young people, jumping on with alacrity onto the bandwagon , react to situations with the same alacrity, and a lack of patient situation analysis. Knee jerk reactions to negative responses, excessively violent behaviours towards the female friends, and occasional deep and dangerous depressive responses in stressful situations.
In my time, someone in the family or friends , might have noticed, asked questions, mediated, or helped.
Technology is good when it is appropriate. It does not work, away from the natural ethos of a given society. One would get unexpected results.
Almost half a century ago, I learned a statement in school which i did not understand then .
"Man is a social animal".....
I do understand it now. Very well.
I just wish Technology was a person and understood it too ....