A journey through time

Virtual world is hijacking the human race, and humans have become its bondage
"Let’s take a trip back in time and reminisce about good old times that seep away from today’s virtual world."
"Let’s take a trip back in time and reminisce about good old times that seep away from today’s virtual world."Special arrangement

BY ZIA DARAKSHAN

We live in a world dominated by technology. However, when we talk of technology, what comes to our mind is not aeroplanes, jets or agricultural innovations or even medical advancements, but it is something which is changing fast. Yes, you guessed it right: It’s smartphones, Internet and social media.

From baby’s day out into the complex reality of the human matrix, the world witnessed a new way of viewing the world. Matrix, the Hollywood movie, created the fantasy world it foresaw 20 years earlier, as what we see is not real.

Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and machine learning concepts intrigued us. Today, we are on the cusp of scientific and technological advancements that will change how we live and interact. The world that evolved from the big bang theory has merged into a microchip.

However, those who refused to mingle have been treated just like the complimentary offer of MacDonald where you get a burger, with fries as a complement.

People born before the 90s are stuck between old and new technologies, and those born after the 90s find it hard to believe old technologies. It’s interesting to note that the people born before the 1960s are the ones who cannot ever be convinced of the new technologies.

They still prefer buying the newspaper, watching the evening news on Doordarshan, taking photos in the studio, and writing daily diaries with their favourite fountain pen.

Let’s take a trip back in time and reminisce about good old times that seep away from today’s virtual world. As the era before the 90s commenced, the world was introduced to an array of platforms that had never before been imagined or experienced.

Who can forget the XXL size wooden cabinet television sets carefully draped in TV cloths in our drawing rooms, with an audience thronging in from nearby neighbourhoods to watch that special Sunday evening film show. Many of us remember the horse and buggy days of Doordarshan, the black and white days when television programs would run for just 4 hours a day with only one channel to choose from.

It was an era when there was no cable or digital TV bombardment. How could one miss those serials, characters and advertisements, even that black & white Doordarshan holocaust spinning for one good hour before the log-in time of Doordarshan? How could one not mention the iconic TV anchors, especially news readers, who would maintain such calm and poise and deliver news the way it was.

They were the trend setters to which the entire nation would look up to, be it their dressing sense, the way they spoke, etc. A celebration of the beautiful rose decked in Salma sultans, the iconic lady news anchor of the 80’s, hair and her typical saree draped stylishly is even cherished today.

The electric pole size antennas were inserted on rooftops with one person assigned the job of moving those antennas to catch signals, a gargantuan task indeed.

The only one landline connection available in whole neighbourhood calls coming from kith and kin on this single connection, and the family that possessed this connection would be considered the most influential family with rich ties with the telecom department.

The whole family sitting around it and a single ring of it would make everybody leap on the receiver to attend the call. Then there was a time when cameras were considered lavish items.

Whenever you have to click a photo one would have to visit a photo studio or call the photographer home to click a family photo. Even if you clicked it without calling the photographer, one person from the family would be missing as he would play the role of a photographer.

The economic reforms of 1991 and increased access to communication drastically altered our lives. We stepped from the mundane black and white world to the colorful world of virtual reality.

Vintage got replaced with chic. Dumb with smart. Gone were the days when you had to wait for that Sunday evening movie with an annoying news break. Conversely, every day is Sunday for movie lovers today.

Earlier TV used to control our lives, however, technology has made it possible for us to control it.

Landlines got shoved in cold storage and smartphones changed the entire gamut of calling. Currently, a family of five has five telephone connections. Even helpers and street vendors may carry smartphones or venture into cashless business.

There was a time when very few of us would own an email account and those who did were considered technocrats. On the other hand, today we are interested in whether one has a YouTube channel or not and how many followers or subscribers he or she has.

The growing dominance of digital media in our daily lives has redefined traditional media. What used to be the media has now been taken over by social media. Newspapers, news channels, cinemas are losing ground to social media.

A new mode of entertainment has replaced the old. What used to be news has become breaking news. Our so called FB journalists are giving run to big media houses that once used to be the epitome of credibility and poise.

Social media is invisibly controlling our lives. The false notion that we are controlling the media has proved only a hoax, but the truth is our lives are being governed by an invisible medium, AI.

Today we watch television but in a different manner. We are watching more programs online, recording more programs to watch it later. No longer are we watching a saas bahu series when it is scheduled to air. Now we watch the program when we feel like it, and sometimes for hours at a stretch by binge viewing.

So much content is available on social media platforms that it’s impossible to select or choose what to watch and what not to. Like we have more writers and less readers, similarly we have more content creators than content watchers.

So much content is available on social media platforms that it’s impossible to select or choose what to watch and what not to. Like we have more writers and less readers, similarly we have more content creators than content watchers.

New technologies and media are developing and replacing one another at a dramatic pace forcing us to stay in tune, we must run as fast as we can or else we lose the game.

Virtual world is hijacking the human race, and humans have become bondage to it. Artificial intelligence is adulterating our imagination by robbing our children of creativity. Similarly, what plastic or adulterated food has done to our body.

As Picasso rightly says, ‘all children are born artists, yet over time that creativity can be applied in positive and negative ways. We need to find ways to stop our dependence on this invisible medium that is eating us silently.

It can be a boon if used constructively and it can be a bane if used the other way. The choice is ours. We would like to be treated as complimentary fries offered with a burger or a burger itself as the whole meal.

Zia Darakshan is Bureau Chief of a Jammu based daily English newspaper.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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