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Living In The Matrix

INDIA | Monday, 15 August 2011 | Views [747]

Delhi doesn’t exist. Sorry folks, sorry dear friends who have booked tickets. It’s not real. We made it all up. Gotcha!

Delhi is in fact a technologically simulated matrix. Yes, I am speaking of course about the phone. I have a simple phone, it doesn't even have a camera, so I have to watch in awe the solemn social ritual that occurs on arrival at any gathering. It goes something like this

Silence  

Tap tap tap

‘u-p-d-a-t-e status’

The entire network knows where we are before the person next to me knows how I am! They don’t need to ask how I am because they asked me that already while they were busy tapping at their last social function.

People spend more time tapping about where they are, than being there, about what they’re going to do than doing anything at all. Second life is life.

Ok ok, I’m a little behind the times: I spent a year living a place that isn’t even formally recognised as a country: there were no blackberries or i-phones; people who sat around a table would talk to one another, share stories, exchange political viewpoints, chatter, laugh, debate. People talked all the time, in the car, in the bank on the street corner, people even used their phones for talking.

Trendy Delhi-ites don’t use the phones for talking, it's Not Cool. There is no talk – its; all tap tap tap. Phonecalls are rare. I have an e-life friendship which for one month was conducted entirely by text message. My wellbeing, whereabouts, were all asked after by text. There were almost daily updates, messages, promises, arrangements, cancellations, more plans... I saw them exactly once the whole month. 

No more the coffee shop chatter or dinner party banter. The concept of ‘I’m busy, I’ll call you when I’m done’ is replaced by ‘I’m busy, but I’ll message you throughout’. Why? Why not just put the phone down, get done what you have to get done and call me in a week? Take care of your business and then let’s go play. Friends have asked ‘why don’t you get blackberry / iphone/ etc’ and my answer is simple – ‘because I’m sitting right here’. I like conversation too much.   

I refuse to get one of these contraptions. I think they should be banned from all public places. At coffee shops, restaurants clubs, instead of handing in bag at the cloakroom, people should hand their phone in. The will be forced to talk, to interact, to do that old fashioned stuff that humans used to do.

Laughter, joy, delight these are experiences that are multiplied by being shared. Banter, belly laughs, these are noisy affairs to be enjoyed in the full delight of human company. And silence…………… silence just means somebody is thinking of the next joke. (It takes some of us a while).

There are marvellous people here, wonderful , extraordinary, fun, vibrant energising people! And I get to hear their inspirational stories and rib-breaking jokes. I’m grateful for the real-time friends; the ones I get to share a laugh with, dance with, eat ice cream and be silly with. The ones who come round if I'm upset and the ones to have fun with. There is no substitute for Real Life. Life is the thing that you make happen while everyone else is tapping about it into their phone. 

Post script: my phone is now broken. Kaput.  Phonecalls won't receive, text messages arrive one day late, the phone cuts out during conversations and everyone who has called since I posted this blog sounds like they are gurgling underwater. I'm really not joking. My phone heard I was complaining and it quit in protest, the advice: get a blackberry............

No way. 

I'm getting a carrier pigeon.

Tags: delhi, laughter and old fashioned good fun, life

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