Category: Communications

Communicating in the Times of Communication

Sumana Khan January 25, 2020 0

At the backdrop of the pompous launch of Jio in India in 2016, a national daily stated that Jio is betting on the growing trend of people talking less and communicating more. It goes back to the basics which questions as to how talking less would make us communicate more. Is not talking or communicating through data in a virtual space constraining us to believe that communication only happens in digital media?

To our dismay, eventually, we have let this vast world of communication be synonym with just that of digital media. It not only testifies our ignorance towards the narrow yet distinct line of difference between the term communications & communication but also establishes our inclination towards space which is so mechanical that emotion has metamorphosed as emoticons. Can we “emoticonize” metaphysical….a thing to ponder and scratch our brain….

The giants including the incumbents are all busy making us digital and nocturnal at the same time. This connectivity unlimited has limited us to a magnitude inestimable. The magnitude is with respect to the designation of this era, i.e. “Information Age”. This barrage of information is now being consumed by us from the communication that is being steered through the communications technologies be it mobile phones, laptops and internet. However, contrary to the definition of communication, it does not let us respond; we may respond in terms of comments & reactions but not “response”. Like the nomenclature of this present era, we all are transforming to consume information but not knowledge. For I believe we consume information, whereas knowledge is something that consumes us. A brief yet powerful incident I experienced in my recent past reinstated my belief.

After alighting from an app-based taxi service which doesn’t let me talk to book it, I rushed into the lift of the apartment where I stay. There already was a couple with their child. They had to go to the 14th floor and I had pressed for 15th. So I had a good 40 seconds with them. The father was reciting some lines of a renowned poem of Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan, to his child. It was one my favourites too and I had gone through it a few days back only, somewhere on Facebook. The impact of that father echoing koshish karne walon ki kabhie haar nahi hoti to his 4-5 years old kid was beyond imagination. If I could be left so motivated, think about the child. I am sure like we all do, this child when grows up would say “my father used to say koshish karne walon ki haar nahi hoti. He is consumed in the knowledge that for him was passed through his father. However, there is another father, who happens to be a close family friend let his one and half years old daughter get immersed in a tablet which to my surprise, rather a shock, is immaculately being handled by her. She may not even know what is it to be listening to a 40 years old father singing a “twinkle twinkle little stars” or watching her mother playing “ring-a ring-a roses…” with her.  Though, she would know all of it in words (body) through those youtube videos, but never in its regard (soul).

Last year, I pestered my mother, who is a home-maker, to use what’s app. She, being a fast learner, easily learnt it, but the chats made us miss the earthen essence of hour-long phone calls. In fact, she also told me “I can chat but can’t talk to you, you either comment ‘hmmmm’ or react through smileys….. and I am too old to understand all of it.”

There are various such instances which essentially make us realise what it is to talk and what it is to just communicate. Well, this digital-connect besides consolidating our virtual life is also consolidating our disconnect with the real world. While a Humans of Bombay page brings forth the heart wrenching real stories of the common people through a virtual media, we, on the hand, are just allowed to feel pity and press a share button from our swanky spaces with a 4G data connection, for a deformed child undergoing a major surgery.

As I write this, I just received a message from my brother, “kotha bolbo” (I want to talk to you).….data is available cheap for communication but talking is a luxurious affair, I guess.

Authored by Sumana Khan