Do Not Disturb

Hooked, hacked & hijacked by cell-phone, digital zombies must understand no app can replace the lap
Representational picture
Representational picturePixabay

Your cell phone is a private possession. All it contains is data. Personal data is priceless. Our mobile phone is just a tool. And not part of us. We are yet to learn the basic digital etiquette as to how to use the device. After a tiring day at the workplace, people enjoy evenings with families. Let them have some time to relax.

After working hours, don’t pester people. In France, your company or boss can’t email you after office hours or during weekends because you work to live.

And this unwanted intrusion angers employees. WhatsApp admins must not annoy members by posting irrelevant stuff. Better avoid WhatsApp groups. You can breathe without them.

Email is a professional platform for communication. WhatsApp is not. If it is official, operate professionally and maintain decency in the group. No doubt, phones are smart. Users are not.

Please respect business hours. Students, irrespective of gender, must make sure, not to make direct calls to their professors, late in the evening. They also have families to attend to and other complexities of life to solve.

At times, long calls at odd hours sour the family ties. A scholar has a whole day to discuss her topic with her supervisor in his/her office. Drop a text if it is urgent. Mention the agenda behind the call. Be brief. Draw the line.

No repeated calls. The other day, my friend was discussing his marriage proposal with his elder brother in another room. He kept his phone in the guest room. He came back and checked that someone had made 25 calls in 20 minutes.

I mean, why is common sense so uncommon? If somebody is not answering your call, he can be attending a funeral, an important family function, or maybe taking a shower. If someone quickly disconnects your call. What do you infer from it? S/he can be driving or there can be something very important happening at his/her end.

It means the person is not available to talk at the moment as the phone is in DND mode. When the person is not reachable for a genuine reason, don’t feel bad about it. Don’t complain afterward. If you are important, S/he will get back to you. If not, stop chasing people.

Love people enough to let them go. If they come back, they belong to you. If they don’t, they were never yours. Sometimes, people we like don’t reciprocate with the same feelings. It is painful. It hurts. But you can’t make people like you. Oops! It sounds too philosophical. No? We need to learn to live with this reality of life.

We have a right to disconnect. Put your gadgets off. Go and take a walk or a nap. People crave slow life in this hurried age. Even teens are depressed- something unheard of, over a decade ago. Access to social media at a vulnerable age is the main reason.

Comparison kills joy. Social media is a flood. It drowns people. Don’t overshare. Privacy is power. I know many people, after reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work divorced all social media accounts. They live very peaceful lives.

Smartphones are designed to be addictive. Digital minimalism, in this distracted world, is the need of the hour. Here, I would completely agree with Robin Sharma, “Distraction addiction is the death of creative production.”

Stop clicking pictures of others, even in family gatherings. And don’t circulate them on social media platforms. It is traumatic for those who don’t want to go public. The content is misused by some compromising sites (through deepfake technology) to earn dollars.

Beware. Don’t ask people to hand over their phones. Some people have a bad habit of checking galleries, the photos of private moments of their partners. Why intrude on someone’s private territory? I am single and have such experience but those in a relationship must understand that checking your partner’s phone is a form of humiliation to him/her. This kind of stalking shows a trust deficit in a relationship.

Another very important issue, not taken care of, is asking for and sharing phone numbers. If you are approached to provide someone’s number. Ask the purpose: Why do you need his/her number? Then, contact the person, at his/her convenience, and narrate that this particular person wants to reach out to you.

Should I provide your contact details or not? If the answer is in affirmation, do it. (Shoot a text. Introduce yourself and ask if it is good time to talk). If not. Decline amicably. Be frank that the person is not interested to talk. The message is loud and clear: Consent is the key. Seek permission.

Some contacts in your phonebook don’t call for years but forward borrowed greeting photos of ‘happy new year’ & ‘Eid Mubarak’. It is insanely stupid. Imagine a doctor going to bed after a 30-hour shift and getting a call, “badhe loug, ab phone bhi nahi karte ho.”

How do you expect him/her to respond? Direct video call betrays the very idea of privacy. It makes you feel anxious and at times uncomfortable. Why knock on the door before in? Just to confirm whether we are welcome or not. If your knock is not answered, return.

If they let you in, you are greeted with a wide smile and not a smirk. Adding people to your WhatsApp groups, without asking them, is not just an offense, it is disgustingly invasive. People keep talking trash and adding toxicity on such platforms. Exit at the earliest for peace of mind. Greetings and good mornings don’t stop till the afternoon. Complete non-sense.

There is something called VPN hour. Let people talk to their loved ones for as long as they want. We usually do it post-dinner. Everyone is entitled to talk in their leisure time. Many make quipping remarks like, “Aap kyu itna waiting me aate ho aaj kal.” 

Please don’t do it for the sake of heaven. It is embarrassing. Let people live and enjoy their lives. Learn time-zone jumpers. Don’t call someone if it is daytime here and wee hours or night in his time zone. Aur sunao & hmmm responses should be avoided to make the conversation meaningful.

Texting while walking is dangerous. The sculpture by Sophie Ryder in the UK seat of Salisbury had to be moved because people busy texting on their phones kept bumping their heads into it. Off late, we observe a very disturbing pattern that youngsters use mobile phones on toilet seats in restrooms.

This is abnormal and the finest example of being a modern-day slave of the king called cell phone. Notifications prompt you to come back to your device over and over again until your behavior becomes automatic and unconscious. Mobile, many call it a new cigarette, has created new distractions.

It gives us rewards and pleasure called dopamine when we are bored or anxious. We have let the device control us. We react and twitch like cats when we hear a beep, vibration, or the sound of an SMS. So, what happens is our body releases adrenaline and cortisol.

Continuous release of stress hormones can turn chronic. When your child throws temper tantrums, don’t hand over your phone to make peace. You are harming his growth in the long run. It is no sermon but pure science. No app can replace your lap.

Set your phones down.  Live off-grid. There is real life on the other side of it. We have become digital zombies. Strip yourself from your cell phone for a few hours daily. Moderation is the key. Have a healthy digital diet. Don’t disturb, neither yourself nor others.

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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