Emotions Thinning Away
Shah Husain Imam
Photo: Zahedul I Khan
The power, beauty and magnetism of written words that private correspondences once used to have are yielding to short, cryptic and telegraphic mobile texting or e-mailing. Of course, it works, and sometimes efficiently at that, only it's too mechanical and coded. It is speedy, convenient and time saving; yet in a way disorientating. As we are left with little time for a pause to reflect and concentrate on anything at all, memory slippages are commonplace.
So addicted have we become to this mode of communication that the distraction and deflection that it produces are manifest in the eyes cast down on either the mobile set or PC screen as if stealing time off the work at hand. It takes up a good part of the waking hours, let alone the fatigue from being transfixed on an appliance inducing sleep loss. No engaging conversation can take place in an ambience of fragmented attentiveness and diffusion of interest.
In the process, interpersonal communication has taken a quantum leap but the quality of it has been ebbing away. The mystical aura of private relationships or intimacies, be these same-age, cross-gender or intergenerational is evaporating into thin air. We have lost the sense of distances, the mysticism of separation and the longings for the sight of each other because of the technological ease with which we access instant communication and contact.
If you have webcam, you use skype to talk to each other as if in person; you are seeing one another live. This leaves nothing to curiosity and imagination, everything is set-piece, and so very narrowed to a frame without the feel of the environs on either side. This being widely in vogue, children, siblings and parents may not feel the urge for personal visitations. It is like using I-pod to listen to an unlimited range of songs without ever having to attend a musical soiree or a concert. We are really getting corralled and boxed in by an overly self-centric isolation. It is anti-community and an impediment to companionship and family cohesion.
We are starving souls, admit it or not, possessed, if you will, by the genie of hi-tech lifestyle and caught up in a hyper consumer culture that thrives on an ever-expanding market outreach.
Yet, the striving for human values still has an appeal. When Bill Gates counsels his grownup children to go through the rigours of self-dependence, there is a message for the society. He has asked them to produce their own wealth out of their own brawn and brain and not eye the assured bank balance of the technology tycoon or that of his spouse as inheritance take aways. Most of Gates' wealth has been given away to trust funds and charitable foundations anyway.
Without the liberating experience of flipping through the pages of a book or a newspaper or a magazine, discovering something of self-image or familiar faces or seeing the inter-play of light and shade, deceit and delusion, valour and hypocrisy in human nature or walking through a wooded pathway or savouring the tranquility and eternity of a lake or sitting by the riverside under the shade of a large tree wandering through the mystery of living, what is our life worth?
As it is, we live in a troubled world riddled with newer flash points of conflict, internal displacement of people, desperate migratory misadventure and above all the climatic convulsion breaking homes and hearts all over.
That change is necessarily progress is fast losing out to the overwhelming reality of the once prized destinations bristling with a sense of forbidding alienation and exclusivity. Reverse or interlacing migrations are the order of the future.
Why must siblings, children and parents once so close and beholden to one another feel alienated from each other under the exacting pressure of modern, fiercely competitive living? This, topped off by rancour over inherited property in many instances. If nature had ordained mutual distancing then it would not have subjected us to the same cycles of aging that we all inexorably have to go through. There should be shared compassion. We are also in the wider world, more like each other than unlike each other. So what is stopping us from holding together and relieving each other of the stresses and strains of living?
The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.