The birth of smart ignorance…

"We keep Frank around, because if there's a power failure he's the only one who can do anything."

So the other day in the great state of California, in the heart of  Silicon Valley there was a power outage. To most born in the nineties, eighties, seventies, sixties, fifties and before, it was just that- a power outage but to the next generation, the super smart, gadget aware, gizmo happy,  tech savvy, it was close to a catastrophe. The things heard by my friends and me as uttered by our kids who are students of some of the most renowned colleges and over achieving schools were….(Hold your hand below your chin lest your jaw falls off!)

 1. Alexa is not talking! Why is Alexa not talking?  How will I know what time it is? Seriously?

2. Mother, there is no power! Will there be water?  God help me!

3. Mom, Will the toilet flush?   Oh God, where do I hide!

4. Will the internet work? OMG will the internet work?  Breathe in, breathe out…

5. I can still make calls right?    I am going away. I will run to the nearest mountain.  I will become a hermit. I will… I will…

6. And then phone rings, “I heard no power, so no service today.” That was the cleaning agency which shows up once a fortnight. Before I pulled the remaining hair on my head I thought, hey, I could have told them that cleaning was NOT limited to vacuuming! Yeah, right, I am so going to that mountain.

Does that sound remotely familiar? It seems as technology invades all aspects of our lives, common sense makes a quiet exit. How I want to hold on to that remaining quantum of solace but it does seem elusive. I have the highest respect for technology and the ease it introduces into our lives but it does come at a cost. It adds complexity to simplicity which is no more the norm. And the blossoming adult has no inkling about the joys and ease of simplicity. Welcome to the times where  babies learns to click and swipe before walk and talk!

I recall buying planners or making planners as a student but when I accompanied my child headed back to college to buy planner I was taken aback by the confusion the ‘once upon a time simple planner’ could create. There were planners by size, shape, color, specific purpose (teacher planner, party planner, mom planner, student planner just to name a few). Then there were sticker books that complement the planners consisting of thousands of stickers saying things like to-do, today’s agenda, main focus, submissions, deadline, sleep time, zzzzz (just in case someone does not understand ‘sleep time)’ and so on and so forth.  While I do understand that planners need to be complex in the multi faceted, multi objective achieving lives that one leads but surely there might be a simpler way. Or possibly not.

When I talk to my mother in law living in India and get the kids to talk to her they stare at the phone and say, but I can’t see her! Will video calls replace audio calls? Texts too are more  prevalent than phone calls. My phone would make constant sounds ding ding ding ding because my kid at college instead of resorting to speed dial prefers to use two thumbs for narrations. Why oh Why! Over the weekend driving to the beach the husband started driving following the car GPS direction while I suggested the direction given by my phone’s google map showing a faster route and the kids from behind quipped in with a route given by waze to outsmart traffic together. Am I crazy that I miss poring over an oversized map while contemplating routes!

Alexa or Google home tell us the date, time, weather, traffic as the morning beverage brews. They manage our calendar, set reminders, play music, guide us through a recipe without us pressing any key or button. Another evening planning on dinner out with friends and family, out came the kid’s smart phones with each looking up reviews of restaurants with menu recommendations. The kids can’t dine out without looking up yelp reviews, plan trips without consulting trip advisor, buy a lipstick or any make up products at that, without going through trusted online survey of opinions and feedback, so much so that buying stationery is comparable to rocket science.

When we moved to the Bay Area five years back I was delighted to find carol singing was popular and groups were going door to door to spread joy and cheer. Last year in addition to the guitar and ukulele the new accompanying orchestra was on the smartphone.

'I am not giving money for carol ring tones!'

I dread the day when the picture above becomes a reality.

Yeah yeah, welcome to the Silicon Valley where simple power outage is catastrophic.  For someone with teens or tweens like me, how ‘dependent’ are your children on the gizmos/gadgets around them? What changes do you perceive in your children or as a new adult around you? Um apart from a perpetual bent neck….

Picture courtesy: http://www.cartoonstock.com
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11 thoughts on “The birth of smart ignorance…

  1. Nailed it Sohini , however like it or not technology is here to stay & we better keep up 😂😂😂😂. Have to say I’ve had a couple goof ups regarding the smart phone tech 😂😂😂.

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  2. With technological advances, what started out as very fascinating and wonderful has now taken on a life of its own and seems unstoppable, inescapable, unsustainable and mostly wholly unnecessary.

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  3. We cant do without technology so we have to embrace it. Having said that, I strongly think that all countries should have power outages just that ‘once in a while’ so our millennia kids know about few realities which are taken for granted .. I would love to see my teens reaction if a power outage happens here !

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  4. Actually faced something on similar lines in a different way .. last year we were stuck in immigration in Sfo for more than an hour .. the system had crashed .. till help came from one gentleman who hopped from table to table teaching staff how to bypass the current system and work on the legacy system .. turned out he was the only guy who was aware of the legacy system (and he seemed pretty tickled pink about it) ..

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  5. Lol,Sohini. So true. I recall the time when Isha was in grade 5, and she wanted to make a phone call to a friend to sort out a simple thing. Or was it just an excuse to do other things during her study time. She needn’t have made the call. It was just a matter or thinking for a bit, or so i thought. As she reached out to the landline, I told her exasperatedly ‘You know, at your age, we didn’t have a phone at home”. Pat came the reply “Oh really? But i am sure you had a mobile…”. Gosh, I didn’t know what to say…

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