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What you need to know:

  • Human beings are addicted to their phones.
  • We need to learn to take a break from always being 'online'.

Your opinion article (The real revolution in India, Gulf News) couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. As the writer points out, the digital communication technology in India has done more harm than good. Easy access to information and knowledge should have made people of India more enlightened, how the smartphone, with all its potentials has become a tool to spread misinformation, fake news, bigotry, hatred and this is crippling the ability of people to think rationally. It is leading to intellectual bankruptcy.

I am afraid the digital technology epitomised in smartphone applications have indeed changed the behaviour of people for the worse, and veracity of information most of the time is not critically examined whenever it is shared on social media. It is appalling to see contents that promote superstitions on social media, often with images that have been doctored skilfully.

However there is also a bright side to this phenomenon where attempts to spread fake stories are being challenged in equal measures leading to heated online debates that many bogus images have since been withdrawn. We are going through a period of excessive information both in the form of textual contents and images being streamed every few seconds on our smartphone devices to the extent that we barely find time to connect to our physical world.

It is not an exaggeration that the first thing we do when we make up in the morning is reach out for our phones. Be it during breakfast, while walking to work, at the bus stop or metro station or at the dinner table, our smartphone devices appear to have become an integral part of our existence. They are almost an extension of our limbs. The avalanche of information that we consume everyday paradoxically doesn’t stay with us. Our sensory organs are not primarily designed to glean information from a palm sized illuminated screen, rather, they are tuned to pick up sights and sounds from natural surroundings, thus transmitting them to our brain for processing.

The constant staring on moving images on a tiny screen is likely to have adverse implications since our eyes are designed to look at far and near three dimensional objects in a natural setting. Smartphone devices, by their design, tend show our perception of the physical world after cutting corners and focussing on selected objects that would otherwise be measured against the surroundings and backdrops. The addiction thus derail our focus on present moment and limit our engagement with the real world. The detox initiative to free from the excess usage or addiction to smartphone must begin with a conscious effort to resist reaching out to it each time it pings. It is that simple, but each one of us has to find way out of it.

- The reader is a resident of Dubai.