As I scrolled my way down the WhatsApp inbox, the stroll down the memory lane was filled with broken threads of conversation and broken strings of relationships. Abrupt conversations, relations that needed repair, awkward emojis and wrongly-timed wishes filled the chats. Now I realize how important these chats actually were.
Today when your reply to a message solely decides your virtue, how reckless I have been! How laid back I was, thinking that there would be an opportunity to talk and sort it out! How silly I was, to realize there wasn’t going to be a chance to ‘set things right’.
It was all now dictated by pixel graphics and virtual messages. Prioritizing now means choosing ‘one chat over another’. Privacy now means ‘selective display’. You could now only read chats, not minds. In Science where a user is considered completely separate and exclusive of a computer system, in today’s communication, the system is the user.
A robot could have been on the other end, chatting. (Though many pride themselves on being able to recognize others using ‘chatting patterns’) Not to mention the distress of those of us who spent half of our childhood learning to write in Cursive and to develop what our teachers call ‘legible handwriting’. Etiquette has anyway lost its place. Grammar is obviously shunned out of the picture.
Curiously, when finally people of the world communicate with each other so easily today, communication lost its meaning. Language and other concerns set aside, getting back to what still intrigues me is how human relations are tethered on to Ethernet cables.
For suppose a chat could save your day or a hasty reply could ruin everything, deals are made and broken on Clouds, people are hired and fired over voice calls, friendship is determined by the number of groups you share or by the number of hours you are online. How everything is getting so transparent it’s almost showy, like a solid dissolving into a crystal glass.
How awkward I felt the other day when I met my friend two years after we parted ways at high school’s end. I couldn’t see eye to eye and yet almost every week we chatted on WhatsApp. I read, heard and imagined that person who texted me every time, but how different people are from their virtual selves!!
How nice and ‘human’ people look when you see them out of their WhatsApp accounts, Facebook pages, and Instagram suites.! How pleasing it is to be able to look into their eyes and talk and in turn see their senses move in response.
To see their eyes rather than emojis, to listen to their voice in the High Definition of reality, to read the thoughts that would whir in their head and to be actually able to touch – the very essence and expression of human emotion. How replies reach almost immediately and there’s no network problem! How suddenly and soothingly humanness consoles.
To know that you are talking to someone so like you and not typing like a maniac into mute devices, aching for replies that would never come if it were not for electronic signals. Jotting down plans on papers rather than virtual pads, so that you are actually planning things. Poring over that old letter that your mum wrote, feeling that once their warm hands actually moved over the paper, filling love in letters.
Cherishing autographs of heroes you worshipped in teenage and desperately trying to capture in your mind’s eye, that one moment you got to see them up close, lets you forget it. Making mental notes of all names in a detective story. Mentally ‘recording’ those moments of time spent together.
The secretly guilty peace we feel when our network is unavailable or phone gets switched off, so at least now that notifications won’t kill us for that minute. The fact that there’ll be a chance to ‘set things right’ later when we are again chained to the ‘World’s Web’ against our reluctant will.
Alas, so I thought. That I could set things right. But all this is a winter midnight’s dream. The morning will dawn on me, I will have to connect again. And there won’t be another chance to explain. All I have to do is cherish every moment I can with real flesh or just probably type myself out like a maniac into a mute machine that can’t think for itself. Indeed, humans have gone and devolved(de-evolved) into humanoids.