Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Google Generation and Blackberry Auntie

Last week, while on a flight, I saw a 6-year-old child using a laptop even after an announcement requesting all electronic devices be switched off was made. When the air hostess requested him twice to turn it off, his parents, instead of helping him do so, were gloating and giggling at their tender-aged son's public display of nerdy intelligence. Little did they realise how their son was missing out on one of life's most important lessons – Good manners.
I feel the greatest loss of our society in the past 20 years is the loss of childhood. As we plunge deeper into the techno era, and if morning shows the day, then, we aren't very far from that time when a child on being asked his grandfather's name would Google first and then reply. Not just India, during my recent trip to the Americas I requested a concierge in a hotel for a popular local address and I found him looking it up on Google. By the time he came back to me, I would have actually reached that place on my own.
Gear up to welcome the Google Generation!
Well, if the Google Generation is on its way, the Blackberry Auntie has already arrived. Wearing black dress is common in Western societies during mourning. But I recently saw a lady do it with her Blackberry during a memorial service in Kolkata.
At the condolence meeting I shared a row with a lady who is reasonably well known in the Kolkata social circuit. She was continuously working on her Blackberry cell phone.
At first I thought it must be a matter of great urgency or else why would anyone attend to a cell phone during a Shraddhanjali Sabha. However, to my utter amazement, she kept on fiddling for over an hour. Never even once did the Blackberry Auntie take her eyes off it. She was too busy to countenance a show of respect to the departed soul.
From cell-yells to multi-tasking to chatting or the ring tones shattering the calm, rude cell phone users are lurking everywhere. Atrocious cell phone manners are spreading across the globe like an epidemic. For all the good that cell phones have brought us, there is a downside.
Cellphones have created mobile bubbles where people are in their own little world cut off from what goes around them. They hold up queues while texting, let their phones ring during lectures, restrooms, meetings, movies and even during funerals, they talk and flush at the same time and so on. It seems, carrying a piece of technology called cell phone allows people to act like cavemen.
A very recent World Health Organisation report says cell phone radiation can cause brain cancer. I wonder if it has a similar adverse effect on the user's sensibility and manners. Why else would our generation that is so well connected on line be so disconnected in life.
Put a cell phone in an otherwise courteous person's hand and then watch how the person loses all his awareness of the people around him. Cell phone is not the issue here, the user is. Cell phone etiquette is an important part of our social behaviour.
I hope the next time Auntie picks up her Blackberry to leave for work she doesn't forget her manners behind. Let technology and manners live in peace - together and forever.
ess bee

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