By Venkatesh Raghavan | Opening Doorz Editorial | February 08, 2019
As the pace of technology kept increasing, pace of luxuries turning into necessities also increased. One such instance is the mobile phone. It happened when the transition took place for this technology from being expensive to commercially viable to the lowest of denominations. I purchased my first mobile set, a secondhand one, more out of a sense of helping out a local hotelier friend of mine to dispose his handset in favor of a new model, than a necessity.
The first few months of its sojourn with me, the mobile just existed for purpose of vanity. Things changed when my database of names and phone numbers grew and neared the triple digit. Incoming calls increased and interruptions when at work place or at home became more frequent. Within a matter of days, usage of the device was an integral part of my life.
There was another acceleration which took place. Android phones arrived in the market. At first, it was just a luxury as in the case of its predecessor. Gradually, androids found their place in almost every common man’s hand. Life changed for almost everybody and I was no exception. Something happened that first became a common occurrence. Initially, I failed to notice the frequency of the occurrence as I too was a part of the same. I was hooked to the handset whether resting on bed at home or commuting in the crowded local trains of Bombay that has been christened as Mumbai or in between copy edit sessions at the office workstation. Even while sleeping at night I kept it a hand’s stretch away after the device got charged.
It took time to for me realize that I had become addicted to something that was neither intoxicating nor stimulating. It was purely obsession with the world of surfing, ear-phones and a cocktail of text, graphic and video messages. I soon discovered that I was not alone in pursuit of this obsession. There were a whole lot of people: people commuting together and belonging to the same group, people sitting alone, people walking on the footpaths or even people crossing a traffic-ingested road besides people sitting in restaurants who had a seemingly endless obsession with their sleek handsets, even as they sat with their friends!
“It took time to for me realize that I had become addicted to something that was neither intoxicating nor stimulating. It was purely obsession with the world of surfing, ear-phones and a cocktail of text, graphic and video messages. I soon discovered that I was not alone in pursuit of this obsession.”
As often happens with creative people, writers, editors and scripters, I suddenly realized that my quality of output suffered because of this compulsive obsession. I had three of them to name—Whatsapp, Facebook and long voice calls. Interruptions started happening in the middle of the night. Sleep was hard to come. I found my work time insufficient to complete the task at hand. I also turned inadvertently reclusive whether at home or in the company of my friends or colleagues.
This is when I decided I should tackle this situation before it turned acute. I took a snap decision to discard the disruptive instrument once and for all. As it has been quoted by Winston Churchill, “it must be victory at all costs, for without victory there is no survival”. All communication including voicing, video and text lost its charm when faced with the prospect of suffering from an addiction without even naming any preference for indulgences.
Initially, it made me feel uncomfortable. I then started counting my blessings. I had found time to pray. I had found time to engage in lively conversations. I had found it easy to complete my work in time and was able to give quality output that got noticed and appreciated. My friends also told me that I looked more cheerful and involved. I had no difficulty in making up my mind. This will be a permanent change that merits no reversal.
There are times I feel people find it difficult to contact me. There are times I feel I have lost access to a massive network of contacts. There are also times I feel Facebook would not be such a bad idea for a few minutes. On all such occasions, I make it a point to repeat to myself mentally, ‘freedom always comes at a price and with a good sense of discipline and responsibility’.
What do I intend to do by narrating this? I have not mastered any rocket science. Nor have I used any clichéd control mechanisms like will power. I have just made a choice. I have chosen to enjoy my self-expression that had earlier been rendered latent.
(Venkatesh Raghavan is a versatile reporter who has handled various beats like crime, aviation, defense, infrastructure, SEBI, revenue intelligence and the textile industry for more than 30 years. He is currently deputy editor of a niche textile magazine Textile Excellence. He has penned three novels: The Counterfeit Racket, Those 9 Days and Operation Drug Mafia.)