Woke up from sleep at around 3am the other day. As if on auto pilot mode, I reached out for the mobile phone, checked time and clicked on the ‘new messages’ link. And what, pray, were the new messages waiting for me to see? An email from mediabistro, a daily news alert from Reuters, assorted promotional messages and spam. All very earth shatteringly important and urgent.
Such ‘trivialization of time’ has become the norm in my life. The frequent checks on Twitter & Facebook, the huddled posture to check emails – it’ all too familiar now. But let me get this straight – I am not in the upper echelons of business, the league of the Fat Cat CEO’s. I may have the common place issues at work but nowhere in the league of jet setting, globe-trotting CEO’s who oversee millions of dollars of business. My job doesn’t require me to liaise with people across continents and be available 24×7. My work related stuff is regular stuff. Yet, my ‘webatitis’ ailment has only got worse. Sure, it is hugely convenient and has it’s benefits. But is it all taking more than giving?
It’s not just about Internet Addiction or ADHD. It’s about the triumph of the vacuous over the enriching. Due to a combination of other factors and webatitis, my reading habits have all but gone. I haven’t read a good book in a while. There was a time when I used to read The Economist cover to cover. Now, the subscription copies lie unopened. And it’s not the kind of magazine that can be read while watching TV, sending tweets and checking mail at the same time. But reading stuff like ‘I just had a vada paav‘ can be done while watching TV, checking mail and having a hair cut. Therein lies the rub. The latter is addictive and becomes the norm. And thanks to the habit of pithy status updates and 140-character limits, I seem to imbibe things only if they are byte sized. The result: focus on the superficial, skimming the surface rather than digging deep. I may recall the name Kobad Ghandy thanks to some tweet or skimming through the headlines but I will be at a loss to say anything more about him. I am sure there are people out there who kinda grew up with ‘old media’ and still managed to stave off the onslaught of the trivial. Pray tell me how?
Gotta go. A friend of mine has just spotted a mongoose in his garden. It says so on his FB status update.