Opinion | Off the Cuff

Smarting from lack of application

Entering the digital era with timid steps

  • By Vanaja Rao
Stone Editor
  • Published: 20:00 July 3, 2013
  • Gulf News

I have a confession to make — I have just become ‘smart’.

I am not referring to a spurt in grey cells but gaining ownership of a gadget that practically does everything except rock you to sleep.

I admit it took me a long time to enter the digital age. But the last straw was when nieces and nephews expressed dismay at my lack of knowledge of the wonders of the internet age such as Whatsapp. The first time it was mentioned I presumed they were asking each other for an update on the social scene. But when the answers didn’t seem to make much sense, I innocently asked what’s up. Never have I heard so many sounds of discontent and the clicking and gnashing of teeth.

Looking suitably chastened by the complete incomprehension on my face, some in this group began to take pity on me and proceeded to explain what they were discussing. Some, in their eagerness, even wanted to install it in my phone right away. But one look at the antique I possessed and their enthusiasm died a sudden death.

That’s when I noticed that no one — apart from me — was simply pulling out a mobile and putting it to their ear. Everyone seemed to be paying this possession of theirs the closest attention. Heads were more often seen bent than erect while fingers gently swiped screens. Seeing the utter concentration focused on this mean machine, I decided I must do something about getting in on the act.

Making rapid calculations (I use the word ‘rapid’ because when the numbers involve my bank savings, the process can only be swift) I decided I deserved my own updated gadget.

Survey

I started with a survey in true marketing style. This involved walking around the office and asking for opinions on different brands and models. This is when I realised how fickle tastes can be. The same person who used to regard his BlackBerry as the pinnacle of technology now viewed it with a certain disdain. I was even told that it had been reduced to functioning as an alarm!

As I was hit over the head with a deluge of facts and functions, I found myself feeling giddy. The light-headedness lasted for several days as even more data was thrust at me. I couldn’t even complain as I had asked for it.

As soon as I felt a little stronger, I decided to go shopping. Revealing one’s ignorance to techie salesmen is not easy. But I swallowed my pride and admitted I was retarded when it came to anything to do with gadgets that required the perusal of instruction manuals. I might as well try and learn Latin.

After a game of tick-tack-toe, I settled on a mobile that looked like it needed a pilot’s licence to operate. Soon I had the pleasure of access to Whatsapp and other such delights. Getting in touch with friends and family was the next step. The reaction of some of the younger set wasn’t very encouraging. They wanted to know what model I had chosen and when I revealed what I had bought, I was told the big screen was perfect for older people. If that person had been within reach, he probably would have found himself minus a slice of his head, now that I am learning to swipe.

Now, after a week of constant texting and being clued in on what’s happening in others’ lives, I feel a slight ennui. Is it a case of too much too soon?

However, when I casually mention ‘Whatsapp’ in conversation with the uninitiated and hear the inevitable question, ‘what’s that?’, I feel a sense of one-upmanship so great that it is difficult to remember that I was in those shoes not so long ago.

Gulf News
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