Opinion | Off the Cuff

Log off the internet and log in to life

We have become slaves to technology

  • By Sudha Subramanian 
Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 December 7, 2012
  • Gulf News

It doesn’t happen always. But, there I was trying in vain to get my internet connection to work. In the end, I walked up to the router that connects my laptop to the internet. There it was, a red light, staring back at me. This meant — no internet ! That couldn’t be happening. Quickly, I ran up to the phone to ask for help, but something it was a bad day — the phone was dead.

Things like this had not happened in years. I mean, there was no hurricane in Dubai right? So, there I was standing alone in an empty house. There was nothing to do. The house was quiet. An uneasy calm descended over me.

Although I had chores to do, like cleaning the kitchen counter or emptying the dishwasher, I was in no mood. With no internet and telephone, life seemed to have stopped. I felt disconnected from the world.

Back in time when life was devoid of telephones or the internet, there was so much free time. Probably that was why people took to sculpting or even fishing. During my entire childhood in a village in southern India, I didn’t know about telephones.

Long after I got married, my parents welcomed their first telephone — a large green one — into their lives. It was a luxury gadget and cellphones were still unheard of.

Rapid change

At that time, whenever my husband travelled, I had to either go to my parents’ or to someone else’s house to speak to him on the phone. Then, from nowhere came the internet era. I still remember taking a long bus ride to reach the internet booth popularly called ‘net cafe’ to email my husband.

Strangely, when I look back, it does not seem so long ago. In the last decade, technology seems to have improved at lightning speed. Every house today is connected to the internet and has a phone, including a cellphone. However, life back then was a lot better. I met people in real time, I would walk to the vegetable market and chat up the vendors, I would hum many tunes around the house, and I would also laugh a lot.

Now, in the last couple of years, all I have done is check my email and stay connected on social networking sites. I do read a lot, but at the end of the day, my back aches. I get my groceries at the doorstep and I have a maid, but I still feel tired. Perhaps it is time to switch off and just walk to the grocery store or knock on the neighbour’s door and just say hello?

As my thoughts go back and forth, I get a brainwave. I check on the cables. Surely enough, one of the cables is disconnected, which explains the red light on the router. I plug it in and switch the router on. In a few minutes, a green light glows on. I immediately feel better. I am not alone in the world. I can now connect and tell the world how I feel.

As I smile and switch on the laptop, there is an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I feel great to have the internet back, but it just doesn’t feel right. I now have a great opportunity to actually disconnect myself from the internet. It is tempting to log in but it is also important to log out.

I click on the ‘x’ and shut down. I smile and decide to sing aloud to myself — for once after a long time ...

 

Sudha Subramanian is an independent journalist based in Dubai.

Gulf News
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