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January 20, 2018

By Zara Maqbool

I think very soon, I am going to be declared a technology/digital hater or whatever term you want to coin for me. The reality is, in this age mobiles, gadgets, social media and what not, have played a huge role in bringing a change in many spheres of life mostly positively but somewhat negatively too and if one thing predominates it is – how it has affected human relationships. This meme that someone shared recently ‘saying visiting grandma and everyone surrounds the grandma with their gadgets in their hands.’ I have also noticed how in many households people have TV blaring loudly in the background while socializing at the same time.

I got married in 2001 and I remember that my husband and I with are average mobiles only meant to make a phone call were never around us. Mobiles that couldn’t take our selfies or helped us watched our favorite shows. We had one TV, which we watched together fighting over the remote. Our favorite past time was playing board games or going for walks, in essence with no distractions we had each other to keep ourselves busy and happy. It goes for our friends too who would come over for a social gathering and hours would be spent talking, laughing and eating. Gifts on anniversaries and birthdays included carefully spent time getting each other’s favorite perfume or book and basically the time spent thinking of each other’s likes and dislikes and the love behind it.

2018 is another story. My husband gets me a latest IPhone for my 40th birthday and I got him a Samsung and we are the happiest couple on the face of this earth like little children at a toy shop. And we enjoy our adult time playing with our toys, all merry and happy. Mind you it’s a good marriage but I take equal ownership of wasting many precious moments lost in our smart phone screens. Funny enough some close friends of ours who catch up over coffee spend half the time on their phones too so much that one day I suggested that we chat on our phones rather than talking while being in the same room.

I have seen people thoroughly enjoying the various WhatsApp groups they are part of, busy chatting away and at times I feel so much communication through chatting takes away the need to actually meet up. These ‘techo-lationships’ are far more successful and less intimidating than real ones.

I think people find it easier to maintain relationships through the electronic devices. Who wants face-to-face confrontation when it’s easier to remain distant and send a text? Emotions also get liquefied through chatting as compared to expressing them in the face. But then is it real? Empathy, anger, joy – all hiding behind emojis and words whereas experiencing these emotions in real time would be altogether different and take more guts?

At the same time, I have seen a lot of confusion because of texting as it affects communication.  Words can be perceived by the receiver’s state of mind, which might be very different from how the sender has intended the communication.

We focus a lot on children and how technology is affecting their mental health but it’s equally important to see how much screen time we as adults are using and how it has affected us in our need for real relationships. Its like spending time perfecting our picture taking skills while we take selfies with our loved ones and maybe not taking the time to appreciate how they look otherwise.

I am going to start now and shut this laptop down and force my better half to stop playing ‘Sniper’ on his phone too and have some quality time the old fashioned way!



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