Seeking Dinosaurs Like Me

I am severely sick. I need urgent medical attention. Except there isn't one available for my affliction. I suffer from the "erroneous" faith in nostalgia as stated above. It is a daily battle fought between me and the present. And I never win.

My diagnosis has sort of been a recent one. It may have been triggered by a famous article I read which has been in circulation for almost 6 years and yet without any impact-"Is Google Making Us Stupid?". The article argued about the way our consumption of information has changed since Google. Even after reading it in 2014, when Google is no longer the most talked about technological marvel (It is something you are using right now on your phone instead of reading this post. Damn!This article is so so right), I was baffled by the simplistic observations of the writer which were so true and relevant. It forces a deep introspection on any thinking being. Shorter attention spans, inability to like anything "long" to read are all too prominent for me to ignore especially when a frequent complaint from my friends is that some of my posts are "too long".

The sequel to that article, if written today, will be a scarier one. A few days after I read it, I was still puzzled as to why I hadn't discovered it earlier and more importantly, why were the warning signs ignored by those who did read it and share the author's views.

Can you remember the number of times you saw Gangnam and its related spoof videos? Harlem Shake? Kolaveri Di? You can't can you? But the article was a monumental task to finish even once.
Reasons for such apathy are pretty obvious-it was anti-Internet and anti-populist. The Internet tolerates many things except those which question its own merits and existence.
Before I argue about online literature/articles, I must confess to be being a less than avid reader. I used to love reading and exploring books. Then I met books which were to be learnt to gain marks in tests. The pursuit of knowledge and learning was secondary. Thereafter came television and movies. I soon became a lazy reader and would avoid it as much as I could. I made many attempts to form a habit. Then came the Internet and the age of Instant Gratification to put a nail in the coffin of serious traditional long form reading. Thankfully, I am making serious attempts again and can hopefully hook myself with the reading worm once again.

I remember being reminded until Graduation by every teacher I came across-" Write in points, not paragraphs. No one has the time to read the whole thing." I shook my head as if this was preparation for life. On the contrary, this seems something meant for Internet Companies. Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog took this formula and applied it everywhere. " 10/20/30 reasons why......" has become the most common article title online. It seemed fun and creative at first. But now it seems to be the norm which is being rigidly adhered to. They are also making it difficult to write/ read at length. The literally diet is changing and many many old crops will face extinction. I pray soon for the last Buzzfeed article-“83 reasons why none of the lists/reasons we gave you are useful or necessary.”

I do not wish to appear as an English Snob/Puritan. I am a disappointment to all my English Teachers. But if they see the Whatsapp conversations my generation has, our test scores will surely be rescinded. The breakdown and dissolution of English rules has always happened slowly over many generations. A person in 1930 spoke differently from a person in 1990s. But the 2010s have seen a rapid and chaotic transformation of these rules. Typing revolutions have begun and ended to give way to newer trends every year.The need for a quick reply has altered what we type, what we read and sometimes even what we understand. It has become easier to do something which was perceived to be impossible for centuries- to render words meaningless.

Oh the pain I feel when one of my friends says “Lol” in her oral conversations with me. It’s as if people do not have time to even laugh out loud but just say Lol to express their amusement.

Will my children even speak the English I learnt? Will there be a new language in existence by then? How long can businesses and institutions form an insulator between what their employees say in personal space and the language required for official use? Brace yourselves: Distorted English is Coming.

It's the best time to say something without ever giving a semblance of honesty or purpose to words. This should make a writer like me nervous enough. But my nostalgia and fear is not limited to just this. It expands to the entire universe of my generation which suddenly seems alien to me. I am the odd one out ( even easier to point out if we were clubbed together, also because of my shiny bald spots)

The photographic obsession with Instagram, Facebook and scores of yet unheard apps which will already be trending by the time my article reaches you, perplexes me. "A picture is worth a thousand words". Well, what you sent your girlfriend on Snapchat was barely worth a letter. What happened to the sanctity of a photograph for memory? Have we forgotten that greater the quantity of something good, the more it becomes trivial? Every moment of your day and life is NOT worth a picture. The purpose has shifted from nostalgic memoirs to artistic pursuit to simple vanity. The hot race for likes, followers, shares and favourites has lead us to become casual about what we share about our lives. Isn't it scary that your photo can be searched / downloaded by anyone whosoever desires? If you lock your account, it does not keep you safe from hacking. If it's online, it is no longer yours. And a photograph is a very personal item for me.

The luxury of Photoshop and pictorial editing is no longer for the models and the stars. Every third friend on your friend list is adept at it. They manipulate and create this aura of perfection in every shot. The flaws are being hidden and adulation is being sought for beauty, if not God-given then Adobe-Created. What happened to the flaws?

 "I do not like my nose in this, my hair in that.....etc".God replied- He does not like your gratitude for his creation-You. 

These social structures and rules are becoming so rigid that they are emulating the real world-calculated, apathetic and pretentious. The sequel to the previously mentioned article should be rightly titled-" Is Facebook making us Inhuman?"Hold your scathing questions, arguments and accusations on my hypocrisy (in using the medium so often). There is a single point which I would like to present to validate my argument- one of the most liked and trending pages are "Humans of XYZ". Isn't the creation of a page titled Humans of something on a Social Network a tacit sign that we have less than human operations on the platform? There can be hundreds of such pages. But the real human touch is still missing- flawed, broken and yet proud. We just see a few stories to convince ourselves of humanity and hope without ever practicing it. It is the same practice which lead people to join and share "Causes" a few years back.

Social Media is now a tool for image wars. Everyone is looking lively and the same. It is the personal newspaper you always wished for,to tell the people of the world your achievements and good looks. When will it end? When everyone is perfectly similar I guess.

I am nostalgic. Not for any previous era which I was not even alive for. But nostalgic for the time when I joined social media for the first time for a clear purpose-to connect with people I have met in my life and retain contact with few of them. To have a mode of communication which was not direct and less scary than face to face but never replace the importance of a traditional phone call/meeting. To keep my first photo because it was about showing a memory with people I deemed important. To share a status update to make my stand/voice clear and not rub anything in my friends face(Quite honestly, there is always someone else ready to rub something even bigger in your face). To admire the human frailty in people's photos and take a peek at their memories and still remember that real beauty lies inside. Now I have joined this virtual society which lies in its perfection and I indulge in it's lies equally. And there were enough lies in my life-the lies of news,movies,glamour, politics and the grand lie that my existence has a noble purpose in this world.

Why do I bother? When will anything ever change directly and immediately based on the written word in 2014? The thumb rule is simple-Experience is all that matters. That is what they tell you when you go apply for a job. That is the rule of life. My generation learns only after experience. They want to do everything-dangerous, immoral, vain and redundant. The lessons come after and those will be remembered. Am I the only one who makes the pre-emptive bid to learn lessons before the carnage? I guess so.

The written word is dying. Atleast the way I write, think or speak is. We are often asked what will the future hold. I can tell you one thing- it will be the best version of the worst you imagine and worst of the best version you hope. It won't be dystopian but it will also not be a technological utopia we see in the movies. It will be less human for sure.

I am a Dinosaur. And that application, website,or text language you use along with the lethargy of our spirits and the vanity of our times, is my Asteroid.

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