19 January 2011
"He who can no longer pause to wonder & stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead." - Albert Einstein
Does technology kill curiosity? Do technical advancements inhibit our spirit of adventure & wonderment? “Yeah right! So what?”, “What’s the big deal?” is a response you get if you interact with teens today. The eternal question is ‘What Next?’ Remember the Samsung ad. It’s a mad rush for new products, new features in existing products, new accessories, new applications, new tools, basically new everything. With so many ‘new‘s, where’s the time to be captivated? By the time I purchase a thing, go home & sit down to explore its features, the marketing for its new, improved & upgraded version would already be out on the telly. Watch the show ‘It’s a Guy Thing’ on NDTV & you’ll know what I mean.
My first handset, the Sony Ericson “brick” model, was still a cherished one. Quite an accomplishment because it was a gadget bought with my salary. And it was taken at a time when I did not feel a compelling need to own a mobile. I bought it only because someone sold it to me for Rs 1500/- way back in 2002! When I look at my present handset - touch-screen Motorola & recall the tiny display of that first handset, the gap & difference is not just in the price of the things but also in my own personal growth in terms of increasing earning capacity & a proportionate willingness to spend. But what has remained constant is my fascination for both. I was fascinated then, I am fascinated now.
My eyes light up at the very sight of a new gadget or application. Like, the first time I saw the LG fridge with its water compartment outside the body of the refrigerator. It was a ‘wow’ moment for me. The journey of Indian cooking, from the wood & fire chulhas to LPG gas to induction cookers to microwave ovens is a remarkable one too. I am still spellbound when I go over some of the latest models in the electronics section of a mall or when I watch the gizmo updates on T.V or the description of features in magazines. I’m like, “This thing can do this?” followed by ‘How’ & later ‘Wow’.
The variety of children’s books & toys available today – I like, I like. As a child, when I was growing up in Bombay, it was all about running around the gullies with a gang of boys. And later in Udupi, it was mostly playing ‘house’ with leaves & assorted sticks & stones. Chasing butterflies & failed attempts at milking the cow were our most fun games. Today, the sheer range of toys to be had is amazing – from tumbling honey bees to an ironing tool set to cash register machines to road excavation equipments – they’ve the whole gamut; that too by categories of age. Playing in mud is so passé!
I’m not skeptical of technology nor do I fear its effects on my daughter’s growing mind. As a parent, what I do dread is the loss of fascination for things. With everything available at the touch of a button, & so easily seen & experienced, the sense of curiosity & allure, the absolute thrill of discovery, the romance of a new sensation, the wide-eyed wonder, wouldn’t be there, would it? Wish we could take time to savor each of these experiences & satiate our senses before we move on to the next conquest. Seems like asking for a lot.
Most scientific inventions & discoveries owe their birth to one emotion: an overwhelming & over-powering sense of fascination. One genius was fascinated by the falling apples, another by the movement of a train in relation to his own movement or lack of it in a car, one was mesmerized by the power of sound, another by the way light travelled, one dug into the deepest recesses of a cell, another into the vast expanse of the universe. Oh, without a sense of wonder, what would man be?