There’s a cool video on YouTube that is making everyone feel nostalgic about the happy unwired life we used to live before and the one we’re living now amidst screens of different kinds and sizes! Since it was published on 25 April 2014, it’s already been viewed 31,786,185 times.
Written, performed & directed by Gary Turk, ‘Look Up‘ is a lesson taught to us through a love story, in a world where we continue to find ways to make it easier for us to connect with one another, but always results in us spending more time alone.
My husband showed it to me the first time a few nights ago while we were both surfing the net on our individual iPads. Of course you’d think that the timing was apt since we weren’t talking but sitting beside each other on the bed doing our own thing online.
Were we alone? Yes, each of us in our own spaces.
Were we lonely? I don’t believe so; at least I’m certain I wasn’t!
He said, ‘this is meant for you’ and after watching the video, I responded, ‘same to you!’
It actually turned out to be a funny moment although I must say that a niggling self-doubt starting taking shape. A volley of scenarios began playing in my head. Were we going to grow old living like this? Were we widening our individual spaces within the marriage more than the ‘we’ space? Would my daughter also feel that smartphones and iPads were crucial to being happy? Would she too feel connected to her world only through these online media instead of face to face interactions? Would she become a loner like me?
The next few days there was an overwhelming number of shares and mentions of the video on Facebook so much so that it started to annoy me and I wondered why? Was it because the concept was indeed true and this reality was making me uncomfortable? Was it because it pointed out where I was going wrong while bringing up my child or trying to have a meaningful life?
I’ve always been a loner and thoroughly enjoy my own company. I’m happy and relaxed when allowed to spend time doing what I like – reading either a printed book or online on Kindle, blogging, playing Sudoku, Solitaire collection or Wordament, listening to music, watching YouTube – most of which are individual activities.
I’ve moved 3 cities (Kolkata to Mumbai to Gurgaon to Bangalore) in the past 10 years – each time facing relocating challenges, work challenges, setting up home, making new contacts and friends, learning to accept the new and let go of the past. I’m mentally exhausted. I know I DO NOT want to make ‘new’ friends! I have a handful of very close friends who know me intimately, with whom I can freely share my thoughts, opinions, feelings, stresses – people to whom I have to give no explanations – they know and understand me. And that works fine with me.
Most of these friends live outstation and I’m in touch with them through WhatsApp. Once in a while if we want to ‘see’ each other we log on to Skype. Even though I didn’t want to proactively make friends in Bangalore, I still happened to make one and we’re constantly in touch, both offline and online. So as far as social interactions are concerned, I’m sorted.
My family – parents and sister live outstation too. I’m in touch with them almost every day on WhatsApp – sharing photos of my daughter and her antics or writing to them about things she’s learnt. I also talk to them regularly – so the family connect is maintained. My in-laws live in the same city as us – we meet often during weekends and that is fine too.
So what am I missing here?
Yes, there are days (especially weekends) when I long for the drinking, eating, meeting sessions with my close friends like we enjoyed while we were still in Mumbai and Gurgaon. Over the seven years of being together the bond had grown really strong. They were almost family – I say almost since they were closer than family. There were no underlying dynamics playing (which normally do in families) and we depended on each other implicitly.
Yes, I do miss just having them around and there are times days go by without any interaction – but we’re almost always able to pick up from where we left off – no questions asked.
Yes, I do miss the times when I would sit with my boyfriend & later husband chatting for hours about any topic we felt like. Perhaps then we had the luxury of time and less familial complications to do so. The mundane take up so much of our time these days that neither of us feel like wanting to stretch our mind space interacting with each other. The only little time we do have left we like to spend relaxing our tired heads, so Flipboard, Zinio, Youtube, Facebook are the places to go to – read less expectations, less conflict, therefore less stressful!
As for my daughter, she has friends in the neighbourhood. She goes down to play every day with children her age. She’ll soon begin school and make new friends there. Yes I agree she already knows that ‘touch’ is the way to communicate – she does see me type on the computer but rarely sees me write using pen and paper. I know that in school she will learn to write but will definitely want to emulate us sooner than we would want her to. Is that so bad? She’s born in the age of digital revolution and apart from identifying with that lifestyle, she will pick up cues from us as parents of the ‘older ways of doing things’ since we’re both from the before digital era. Perhaps, that could mean she sees the best of both worlds?
Our smartphones are our life lines now – we access almost everything online. Google Maps, MapmyIndia all are great tools but as Indians we still roll down the window to ask for directions. Responding to work mails, working on presentations all happen online but we still go have a coffee or a face-to-face chat when wanting to take a decision. Our life in pictures and videos are easily shared with family and friends without the need to have them close by, access to music and especially the ability to download it anytime makes listening pleasurable. I play games online but till date have not played with ‘frenemies’ since I play to relax, for my own pleasure not to show one-upmanship!
Look Up has the right intention and it’s good to sometimes stand back and notice how serendipity and face-to-face interaction can be life altering but I really think its pushing the boundaries unnecessarily when suggesting that it’s making us alone and lonely. Also, interestingly it’s become popular, read gone viral with more people talking about it ‘online’ than ‘offline’, clearly an indication of the opposite of what it set out to achieve!
So let’s just go with the flow. We’re mostly good people so let us lead our lives the best way possible and the way it suits us instead of stacking up these unnecessary complications.