Switch off. Switch in.


Recently, we had a group of friends from India for a visit. I was away on a short assignment and on ‘silent mode’ for four hours. After my interview, I glanced at my phone and saw ‘20 missed calls’ from home. As with most human beings, my first thought was that of an emergency. I called immediately to listen to my husband at the other end asking, “What’s the WiFi password?” I did not know whether to show outrage or laugh. The explanation was, “Our guests want to log onto the Internet, and they are quite restless! I immediately messaged the home WiFi password while rolling my eyes at the so-called ‘frustration’ and ‘restlessness’.

Where we are today with technology, I believe, does not just depend upon our ‘connect’ but rather our dependence that can go to extreme levels. Last month, a technical glitch caused a technological outrage when a large part of the technological-dependent population went offline for almost eight hours. While the breakdown did have its share of problems, it also brought to the fore ‘withdrawal symptoms.’

There were raised voices, people looked at their phones in disbelief and indignation, it seemed like fingers and thumbs had gone without its usual share of exercise! It was a time for many emotions – frustration, anger and even helplessness. I, too, succumbed to general banter, but after an hour decided to turn the tables to take advantage of the situation. There were no mails to check every second, no WhatsApp messages to reply to and no news websites to surf. I finished my transcriptions, listened to music and had long conversations with my colleagues. Did I miss technology? Sure, I did! But I knew the lull was temporary!

There’s a joke going around in social media circles that part of your hospitality must include offering your WiFi password to your guests! Jokes apart, many of my friends did feel that the ‘switching off’ had done a lot of good. It made some more creative (no help from Google), others more responsive (no time for mindless surfing) and yet others used the ‘technological silence’ to do things which they otherwise, might not have found time for!

While one cannot advocate frequent network outages, it has become important to understand that too much dependence on technology can take the fun out of our lives.

As the Italians call it, ‘Dolce Far Niente’ – or the sweet joy of doing nothing! Once in a while, it’s imperative we switch ‘off’ and ‘switch in’!