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Pining for a time when a laugh was not a ‘LOL’

How tech should be deployed in personal interactions must be individual’s choice

Gulf News

Picture this: If you can’t be called, can’t be paged, and are unable to check your e-mail, do you really exist? This is what we have become today. A blip on someone’s messenger app or a lost name in a sea of digital contacts.

Almost every aspect of our lives has been taken over by technology—personal, social, and professional. To the point that even children are not left unaffected by the growing popularity of gadgets and apps.

Beyond a doubt, technology has helped progress our lifestyle. Daily chores that seemed to faze us a couple years back have become so easy these days.

Technology is present everywhere and is being used in everything. The introduction of several gadgets and devices such as laptops, tablets, and mobile devices — with each having its own versions with even more advanced apps — is helping us finish our work with ease.

The last decade was the decade of technology, and IT has drastically changed the way we live. Personal computers are an essential part of our lives now. The big WWW is now our primary and largest source of information, all available to us at our fingertips.

There is no doubt about the huge potential of the IT industry and its significant contribution to our lives. But all of this has come at a price.

Today, someone living in one part of the world can easily, from the comfort of his couch, communicate with friends or family right across the globe. From the days of dial-up lines and landlines, communication has become much faster and a time-saving process.

In this process, what we’ve essentially lost over the last couple of decades are the feelings, emotions, and attachment that we’d experience when writing a letter or meeting someone in person and greeting them with a warm smile.

In today’s world, social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like are the modern equivalent of sharing our feelings with our near and dear ones. Back then, Laughing Out Loud was a completely different expression, where you actually laughed out loud. Today, it has been very nonchalantly cut short to LOL.

Back then, life moved at a slower pace but more qualitatively. People actually had dinner at the dinner table, together, without any wi-fi, mobile devices, or smart TVs to be engrossed in. Today, family interactions are limited to the odd Skype call every week. Today, we chat over the internet with complete strangers whom we’re never likely to meet.

But I believe what scares us the most is the pace of technological evolution. Rapid advancement in technology has increased the pace at which we live, effectively connecting reality with imagination. To be precise, we are virtually moving with our thoughts and at the blink of an eye, today’s technology becomes outdated tomorrow.

In conclusion, I’d say technology is unquestionably a value add. As to how much of a threat it is, it’s debatable. Technology is definitely replacing human emotions, and this is very likely to have devastating impact on younger minds.

Think of it this way; technology is like medicine. It does what it is asked to do, but has its side effects. Every innovation and discovery in human history, however well hailed, has had a flip side to it. But we all have an option of choosing them wisely and judiciously.

The writer is the Director and Co-Founder of Merlin Digital.