Walking through corridors of computer centre and various laboratories, I occasionally witness students and young workers completely glued to the screens, switching the tabs between YouTube and Facebook. It is not that elders and seniors do not act in a similar way. My concern is the draining out of precious efficiency, strength and creativity of youth years. Sri Harishankar Parsai called it the age to make mistakes and learn from them. There is something hypnotising in these services, which makes it near-impossible for the young to retract their steps. It does lower the conscious level, makes the mind dull and stupid, not to mention the number of hours wasted that way.
Are these people compromising their work, studies, and other responsibilities while logging in to the internet? Is the society, and the individual, suffering due to this addiction? Or is it that they are hooked to the screen because they do not have anything else to do? Whatever may be the cause and the effect of this addiction, it has certainly made the individuals absolutely blind to the beauty in sights and sounds around them — the little kids playing, the chirping of birds, ringing of the milkman’s bicycle. What they see is not real; it is merely a reflection of the real onto the virtual plane. One cannot feel it, it gives out neither fragrance nor odour.
However, if one insists on being optimistic, even this isolation can have positive consequences. For example, earlier also there would have been the people who could be seen playing video games, watching TV and movies, strolling on the streets, or maybe just sitting or lying down killing time, doing nothing. Out of such empty minds the miscreants are usually created. The creative impulse, not finding an outlet, rushes the mind back to the forest. That incites arguments, debates, agitations, at the least provocation, leading in the worst case to burning and destruction of public property. With the advent of internet, through mindless surfing, such people are given what one may term as ‘occupation’, though not actually an employment. They are not earning anything in financial terms, and there is serious doubt whether they are gaining anything in terms of skill development or intellectual growth either. Still, if we consider in terms of the collective, they are at least moved away from the street, which keeps them away from contributing in any way to the birth or exacerbation of communal tension and the like. This saves public property, and helps in maintaining peace during otherwise turbulent times.
Postscript: The best approach for maintaining a healthy balance between virtual and real world is to remain conscious of one’s purpose of logging to the internet and always be on alert of any distraction. Surfers could also ask themselves what they would be doing had they not logged on to the internet. In the answer lie many additional questions.