Picture source:  www.business2community.com


Think about the last time you read an important piece of information. More often than not, it comes from the status updates of your numerous friends on Facebook. When you put forward an opinion, a lot of it might have drawn inspiration from your favourite tweets on the same subject. Instead of flipping through the pages of your neatly organised notebook, you would rather zoom into the picture you saved of your college timetable on your phone. Information is now merely a click away, giving people from even the most remote corners of the world an opportunity to communicate easily and efficiently. However, a majority of us are now crippled by our continuous dependency on these virtual crutches.

In the light of the latest crackdown on social connectivity, consisting of the government restricting messaging to a meagre 5 per day due to the threat towards people from the North-East did not sit too well with a society that is completely in sync with the social networking era. Thus, what actually began as a somewhat reasonable ban to prevent rumours spreading on a wide scale is now being seen as another excuse by our country’s leaders to crack the whip on our freedom of expression, be it through the SMS or the more dangerous threat of control over sites like Facebook and Twitter. Agreed, a simple ban on texting will in no way stop malicious stories leaking into the public domain. However, what is also evident is the fact that the lack of proper texting facilities didn’t lead to the end of the world a good four months before December 21st, 2012. Life continued in the same fashion as it did when the rights of texting were more liberal. When the Telecom Authority of India had declared a ban of 100 SMSs a day, so many users received a reality check when they learnt of their addiction to a piece of electronic genius. However, just as we gradually got accustomed to this new regulation and our tired fingers were fortunate enough to be subjected to marginally less typing, the new ban for a short period of only 12 days is too insignificant a sacrifice being paid for the uproar it has caused.

With the messaging limit being later extended from 5 to 20, and finally the lift of the ban, social networking sites immediately saw the appearance of memes and statuses proclaiming happiness almost equal to a nation winning its first world cup. The excitement of being able to send 15 more messages a day seemed palpable as almost everyone had their phones out the next day, furiously typing as they stared into a mini screen that flickered with notifications received from their equally enthusiastic recipients. However, the comment that made me stop and re-evaluate how dependant we really have become to these social platforms was when someone casually remarked, “I don’t know about people with those outdated phones, but almost everyone has a Blackberry or a smart phone now. That keeps us connected through BBM, Whatsapp and Facebook. This ban on texts is just a minor glitch,” said one such addict with a beeping Blackberry in hand.

The number of times we refrain from using our electronic gadgets for practically everything can be counted off our fingers. When you start working on your super important project one day before the deadline, you thank the Google and Wikipedia gods for showering their blessings on you. Our internalisation of technology is evident from the use of phases like ‘I googled that information’ or ‘I saw that on her wall last week,’ while only a couple of decades ago, walls referred to those rectangular combinations of cement and plaster of Paris that form the outline of every structure. As for the future, this incessant need to be constantly linked to everyone around only seems to be growing as social media spreads its branches and reaches out to every single entity within and beyond its periphery. Social networking and technology provide us with an easier and more efficient lifestyle, but that doesn’t alter the reality that if our parasitic existence continues, we might just be witness to the dawn of a Matrix-inspired end to our civilisation.