The caricatures will indicate the subject of my blog!
‘AD‘ is the initials of the Latin words anno domini, which means “Year of the Lord” – in other words, (approximately) the number of years since the birth of Jesus. The modern equivalent is ‘CE’, which means “Common Era”. ‘BC” is the initials of the English words “before Christ” – a way of counting backwards in time before the current era. But now new terminologies have come up, BF is Before Facebook and AF is After Facebook. Facebook started in 2004 February and WhatsApp in Jan 2009. They have made a great revolution in our lives.
These technologies churned out because of two behemoths of the modern technology, Internet and Cell phone. As normally happens, FB &WA changed our methods of communications totally. These helped us to locate old friends, long lost pals! Everybody was thrilled. We got controls in our hands and we could communicate with anybody and everybody, anytime, be it midnight or be it noon!
In 70’s the communication with each other was by mail and telephones; telephones in our part of the world were a rarity. There was methodology and etiquettes, in their usage, which were established over a period of time. There were certain etiquettes for business letters and there were some for personal letters. World over, the postal departments were doing the job of delivering the mail. This conventional mail slowly came to be known as snail mail as the time taken for a letters to reach was 3 to 6 days within the country and 3 to 4 weeks in foreign countries.
Slowly with internet came e mail, personal telephones called cell phones became available. But these technologies also came up slowly in nineties! In the 21st century two technologies started galloping and these proliferated world over. In India cell phone usage has increased at the break neck speed. From the same two technologies were born FB and later WhatsApp! Once people realized how easy it is to use FB &WA, the numbers simply became billions! Another thing that helped was increase in Internet speed and Bandwidth, added to it was the local language availability. Video calls became possible as easily like voice calls. We think that these developments happened suddenly but technology does not work this way. These developments of Video on cell phone had started in the year 2000/2001. In 15 years, better hardware, software and Internet changed the face of the technology.
How was this useful to human race? I can say that, had this technology been available before 2nd world war, it was possible that Hitler could have won the war. He had a very fierce propaganda machine led by Goebbels but with FB & WA his reach could have been global. There were enough desperados in this world, who would have joined Hitler!
I don’t want to flood you with statistics about usage of these two apps and all apps in general. From what I have checked on the net the time spent is between 2 to 4 hours in working and retired people; the same use is even more in student community.
I have noted that usage of these apps has increased during the time in offices, office time which is supposed to be productive. I go to various industries and the new trend is that people still seem to be busy, but many are busy looking at their cell phones. These organizations prohibit access to the social media apps on their office computers but with smart phone prices spiraling down, large number of people can afford smart phones. Access to these apps on personal phones cannot be stopped. Once we were waiting to meet a senior officer in an organization. We were told that he is busy in a conference call. He was sitting in a designated area. We passed by that area two or three times; every time he was busy on his cell phone screen. Never saw him talking on phone.
Social issues created by these apps are worse (loss of productivity, loss of family time) than the advantages offered by them. Out of 3 to 4 hrs time spent on these apps, important time is eaten away from “family time”, after reaching home. Of course, the whole family is busy looking at the screen! The so-called group usage of WA is a curse. More than 90% messages are forwards! This facility has been used for spreading rumors and has resulted in killings of people, based on rumors in India. WA is struggling to prevent this from happening, under government pressure!
I will share some experiences with you. The above caricatures show how today’s lovers enjoy, they don’t look into each others eyes but.. at their own cell phone screen! The other day a couple came home for coffee. After usual, hi and hellos the gentleman got busy on his cell phone. After more than five minutes he had to be bluntly asked if he came to our home to check his WA messages? Once we had gone out for a family dinner with young family gang. One of the kids, 20 years old was addicted to her cell phone. She was sitting opposite me. After 15 minutes or so, I told her to put the cell phone away as we were having a lovely dinner. After that episode she avoids me in family get togethers. How do we resolve this?
Now I am semi-retired so it hardly is going to make any difference if I wasted time on FB/WA. But, I have decided that in future, I will access Facebook only on days when I publish my blog. (All these days publishing was automatic but FB does not allow automatic publishing from WordPress from 1/8/2018) I will communicate with friends on their birthdays/ and some special events privately, never on the wall.
On WhatsApp, I may be required to react on a couple of groups as I am Admin in one, and the other is our society group where I am the chairman. So, I will be accessing WhatsApp only once in a day, early mornings. Similarly, I will use WhatsApp to circulate my blogs only!
There was a movie called “Back to the future” which took the hero back to his parent’s school time zone. I am going “Back to Pre FB-days”. I have been trying it for last week or so and I am happy.
Please forward this blog or like it! My purpose for writing this is just to communicate with you by “New or maybe OLD” method of communication in future. After all there is life beyond Facebook and WhatsApp!