Lost in the Virtual

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves



Those who know the inner life are best able to deal with the details of outer life.     
I went to dinner last Saturday with a friend at Vivanta. We met after a couple of months and I was really looking forward to catching up with him. We met at a nice quiet restaurant and as we both sat down we placed our respective mobiles on the table, by default.
It was a strange sight, a nicely laid out table with beautiful plates and cutlery, glittering glasses and the gentle flame of a candle accompanied with two steely phones.
As the evening progressed our phones beeped, rang, pinged, there were email alerts, urgent phone calls interspersed with calls from various call centers pushing us to buy life-insurance, go in for a gold-card, buy real estate...etc.
As my friend and I played volleyball with our phones and managed a few lines of conversation between ourselves, I realized that the other tables around us were also following similar social patterns, some with laptops as dining companions too!
The next day on my morning walk I was struck with a similar sight. Steady walkers tightly holding on to their mobiles with dear life, runners with phones strapped onto their waists, Ipods clipped onto arms, others with wireless devices fitted onto their ears - all to stay connected to the outer world.
The beautiful Badaam-vaer with its breathtakingly charming trees, bursting-with color flowers, stunning monuments, and some green-green plants was all lost between snippets of conversations —'yes buy that share,   'do you know how much we bought that land for?' I'm so fed up with this situation, 'and then she said to me,' 'where should we go for dinner this evening,' ' Srinagar  is too cool  lets  get out of here for a few months'... and on and on and on.
Last month we were attending a family wedding, there was a small intimate gathering. As the wedding ceremony was unfolding I noticed one guest typing furiously on his blackberry. Click, click, click. At some point he noticed my looking at him in disbelief and then he whispered 'This will go on for a while, so might as well catch up on some stuff, time is of the essence, you know what I mean?'
As we update our most intimate feelings on online updates like Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Orkut etc - X is happy, X is heartbroken, X is now the proud owner of a new car, X is waiting for 3 more days before vacation, X is now single - it is as though we are shouting to the world - I exist! I am! Look at me!
It seems we are looking for validation from the outside world to agree with us and notice us. There is a big race and we don't want to be left behind and lose out on any single opportunity. There is a paralyzing fear that 'something important' will pass us by if we don't stay connected. Perhaps somewhere there is also a fear of being by ourselves; alone in our company.
'As we move further and further away from nature, and delve deeper into this artificial and virtual world, we have to ask ourselves are these the life choices we really want?
"The real life is the inner life.'
The writer is a Srinagar based architect he can be mailed at shaikhgowher@rediffmail.com

Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 20 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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