For want of a better word we called it a selfie danda, the name my son-in -law gave it when he presented one to me two years ago. It is a 4 ft telescopic rod on which you can mount your mobile and take a selfie by clicking a conveniently located button. If 2014 was the year of the selfie with everyone from the Pope to POTUS to our own newly elected PM joining the fray, then 2015 definitely belonged to the selfie danda.
Although technology and technique has evolved since, the problem with the selfie remains two fold. First, because the camera is literally in your face, your features get distorted and you end up looking crosseyed. Second, there is no way to include the scenery in the background and the resulting picture is just full of you. Here’s where the selfie danda, now officially called the selfie stick, comes to the rescue. It increases the distance between you and the lens hence gives your picture the necessary depth and perspective. “Perfect !!” He had said but I hadn’t agreed, simply because I was scared it marked the end of an era.
I don’t mean to gloat but two years later I have been proved right. Do you remember how it was perfectly okay to stop a stranger and ask him to take your photograph. This is slowly becoming a thing of the past. As technology is helping people become more self sufficient social interaction is suffering. I noticed this while using public transport recently. Everyone seemed to be in their own world, chatting on the mobile, listening to music, playing games or filing reports, each one in his own bubble. A far cry from our childhood days when in train compartments, life histories and meals were shared with total strangers. By the end of the journey a common link in the form of a distant uncle or cousin would inevitably emerge.
We are witnessing a transition of attitudes with youngsters preferring to rely on their smartphones rather than asking a passerby for information, something, which would make them appear less tech-savvy. And I strongly suspect that just as my children cannot believe that complete strangers could walk into our home to watch the Sunday movie, their children will not believe that you could stop random people on the road to ask directions or take pictures.
As a matter of fact I feel that my grandchildren ( if there are ever any! ) may not believe that watching television was once a social medium characterised by a family sitting in front of the living room screen. The concept is rapidly being replaced by solitary viewers watching programs on smaller, more personal devices such as tablets and smartphones using ‘noise’ cancellation earphones.
The world is shrinking and so is our comfort zone. We zealously guard our personal space and right to privacy. It is making us more and more intolerant and wary of intrusion. Sometimes I miss watching TV with the entire clan, sush-ing each other, straining our ears to catch the dialogue over the din. Being overly self reliant, with no need for give and take, destroys the basis on which a society functions. Too much of anything isn’t good !
( carried as ‘Spice of Life’ in HT on 27/2/2017)