Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Atlas, Shrugged Off

We are a generation of bent-necked screen-starers, a generation basking in the glory of an extinct people who valued and worshiped nature with an honest fear and awe in their relatively innocent hearts.
But just as our wisdom teeth have gained vestigeality with the merciless passage of centuries, it appears nearly certain to me that very soon, the human race is approaching a day when a man's neck will- in its true anatomical position- bear a shameful downward bend. Not because this generation that I speak of has shamelessly raped and plundered this planet to that lethal edge of no return, but because we have become so daft and dependent on man-made technology that our mental faculties of discernment and decision making now rely entirely on popular opinion that most often, hides behind 'likes' and 'favorites'. If a person does not exist on Facebook, popular belief will lead you to be convinced that he or she is as real as the Loch Ness monster. My cousin refuses to board this merry little train of smartphone addicts and continues to use a good old push-button mobile phone whose only application is to receive (and very occasionally, make) calls. The stares he receives and the snide remarks he has to hear every now and then about his vintage device have not escaped me; I confess to having asked him to get a smartphone too so that we could catch up more efficiently and frequently via WhatsApp or some such app. Each time I've asked him, he has refused with a shrug and a smile, like he knows some dark secret about the reality and severity of this possible addiction.
I guess he's the smart one in the family, even if his phone doesn't win the same adjective!
I remember a patient (young adolescent of sixteen) who once came to my clinic asking me if he could get maxillofacial corrections done so as to look his very best in selfies. While I understand and respect the skill and need for cosmetic surgery, that day stands out with a distinct incredulity in my memory because I think that's when I truly realized what an epidemic we were now facing collectively, as a species.
This isn't something that is restricted to a socio-economic stratum or a geo-political space alone- it is unbiased, undivided and unwavering in the wholehearted acceptance that it has received from mankind.
Our phones are now, truly just an added appendage that go everywhere we go; we have phantom pangs of discomfort when the battery's running too low or when the phones haven't vibrated in a while. In essence, I suppose it wouldn't be too wrong to say that it is almost as if we amputated our sensibility entirely and are carrying it around in the palms of our hands in a more tangible casing.
There are days when I wonder if the root cause of this addiction and dependence that we've all developed is a deep-seated insecurity that asks us each day if we're good enough, or if it's a narcissistic desire to display our physical and/or mental capacities to a wider audience than just the voices in our own heads. However, my favourite theory is whether it is  actually a stark loneliness that paints human life a dark grey shade in this day and age, and it is these very screens which allow us to feel like we're part of a bigger community that is kinder than the cold faces and unfriendly words we see and hear in our 'real lives' everyday. Have we started to prefer living in this world of memes, Apples and social media, and turned into androids (pardon the wordplay) entirely? Or are we on a dangerous precipice beyond which lies an unknown future that Isaac Asimov would be proud of? Where men and women walk around on streets plastered with screens, their eyes covered circumferentially to only allow them to see what their operating system decides to show, speaking to each other only via apps- no matter if they are merely two inches apart from one another?
I had imagined a future of flying cars and alien invasions as an imaginative child, but never had I envisioned such unconditional enslavement to a slab of metal and glass. So in such a scenario, the only question I ask myself is whether it's alright to follow this trend, and in essence, perhaps follow the collective destiny of my species? Or perhaps be more respectful of the anatomy and physiology I was born with and allow my atlas bone to prosper and support my neck as I look upward, onward and forward to a brighter future, to a more glorious sunset...