Two-faced technology

Two-faced technology

My aunt passed away. My octogenarian dad was distraught. His heart ached to have a last glimpse of her. His health simply would not cooperate. She died too very far away for his comfort. The family tried to impress upon him, that he could make the condolence trip the moment he became better. In the midst of these exchanges he suggested the use of Skype to fill the lacuna.

The idea appeared profane to the orthodox family in the beginning. Nevertheless, it was executed by a willing niece. The picture of his septuagenarian sister lying dead in bridal finery broke his heart but healed his psyche. He performed the customary ablutions after the body was confined to flames. Technology metamorphosed into a soothing balm to a distressed mind.

The incident set me thinking. I always thought that modern technology has upgraded scientific, intellectual, and material progress. The ability of technology to be humane had escaped me till then. But then, I also realised that technology is a mere tool; the
user gauges its strength and decides its usefulness.

“Are televisions the boon or bane to society?” was invariably a topic for students a couple of decades ago for essay or debate competitions. Students speaking or writing for or against the topic would mouth or ink previously considered, consulted and rehearsed points. The content of a dozen worthy competitors on either side of the table would seldom vary by a point or two, if at all. Yet, all of them would religiously concur that the gain or loss from the medium purely depended on the user.

If we zoom into the current period, it is not difficult to see that our planet has never ever been so well informed or well connected, in the past. The world is at our fingertips both figuratively and literally. Every person and profession has been touched directly or indirectly, by its omnipotent relevance and versatility. As always, everything comes with an attached price. Lifestyle diseases, lethargy and lack of will to comprehend and learn are proving to be a definite distraction leading us to towards the path of self destruction.

The ancient argument, though no longer about the television is still relevant and doing the rounds, albeit with technology. The universal clichéd conclusion about the coin having two sides is still valid. It is in our power to use the tool wisely or wantonly. Whoever said, that “the more things change, the more they remain the same,” got it right for all times!