From humans to robots

What is the first thing you do when you get up?

My mom would say you should say a small prayer and thank the lord for one more day. But we live in a technology obsessed world. The first thing we do when we get up is to reach out for our smartphones. While in bed, we scroll through the messages, our news feeds on social media sites and by the time tea/coffee is ready you haven’t seen the sun come up but you are abreast on the life of strangers and friends.

Then we whiz into office, and start our daily grind. We check our emails and start responding in a robotic manner. There is a limited greeting exchanged with  colleagues, unless you’re working in a government office where for the first one hour you’re catching up on the daily gossip. Emails and office instant messaging has made communication faster; but less personal. It has helped increase productivity but people are shielded by the email and avoid face to face communication as much as possible. Email was supposed to lower the response time but it has in fact lowered the human interactions.

Pic courtesy Grammerly

Pic courtesy Grammerly

While delivering bad news, the email is the most effective tool. For example:  if you don’t get selected for a particular job, or if your presentation wasn’t approved, an email comes to the rescue… We all want to avoid the awkward moment of having to explain the rationale behind the rejection. But the rationale is what gives closure to the receiver. It gives a chance to interact with the person and give them feedback. In hiding behind the emails we tend to avoid the possible confrontations. We are evolving, with so many applications for communication.

We prefer the written word over the spoken word.

Even love today is all about the status messages. Writing love letters is definitely a thing of the past. The heavy heart when you receive the love letter, the anticipation of the contents and the feeling of joy on opening the envelope are all gone. Now an email from a loved one could increase the heart rate but somehow seeing their handwriting has its own charm, which an email can never replicate. Recently I read an article where the author was counting the amount of birthday wishes he receives now- a –days by phone as compared to via social media sites. He felt special when someone called him to wish him instead of using the internet. During my teenage years for every birthday of my friends, I would line up at the card shop and buy Anne Geddes cards because they were my favorite. How the message on those Hallmark cards used to matter. Now it’s a simple cut copy paste and an email sent along with an image. Really, how boring we have become. We have lost the ability to appreciate the artistic covers on the cards; we don’t pen a few personal lines. I don’t blame the card shops for going over the top with advertising during Valentine’s Day in order to recover the loss they must be incurring the full year. I think I would have to Google the nearest card shop in my locality, as they are now a dying breed.

The advent of Online Shopping is upon us. Firstly, let me clarify I am an online shopper of certain items. I have bought computers, phones, bags, books and some other items as well all online, so I am not averse to it. But now we have grocery shopping which is also online, I mean gone are the times when we could smell the coriander leaves, savor the feel of the tomatoes, the freshness of the vegetables in our hands. We simply click a button add it to a virtual cart and are done. There is no interaction between the seller and the buyer, no favoritism of which seller to go to, no small chit chat about the rising prices. When I was young, I knew my grocery shopkeeper by name. Today I have a choice between a few down the lane. However I choose to just call them instead of going to inspect the goods that he would deliver.

I suppose it’s all about convenience in this fast paced world but sometimes I think the world should slow down and we should take a moment to breathe it all in.

However much we hate the email and the instant messenger apps, they provide us one thing that is really essential.

They provide us connectivity with people who we haven’t been able to stay in touch with. With the press of a button or two we can record our voice and send it over to a person sitting far away in a different country too.

I have my mom’s recorded voice singing to my son. Without technology that wouldn’t have been possible.

Technology has helped us grow from being the village idiot to the modern slave. But along the way, we have lost out on the human interactions of facial expressions, eye contact and small gestures which make us human.

K

1st February 2014.

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2 thoughts on “From humans to robots

  1. This is an excellent, well-written post, and so very true! I, too, enjoy the quick connectivity, but miss things like getting cards in the old-fashioned mail and talking on the phone instead of getting a text.

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