The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential


“How are you? We hope you are keeping well,” wrote my parents some years ago when I moved to a country four thousand miles from home. “I am fine, and doing well,” I replied.


It took three weeks for my hand-written letter to reach them. In the intervening period, I had suffered variously from a bout of malaria, a stubbed toe when I banged the limb against the table when waking up to go to the bathroom one night, was at the receiving end of a mouthful from my boss, and almost starved when a local riot shut down the neighbourhood grocers for three days.


However, it was fine. We communicated, and that was that.


My daughter called some months ago to enquire why I had not replied to her mail. “When did you send it” I asked. “Oh, about ten minutes ago,” she replied. “Ah, let me switch on the computer and check,” I replied, mustering as much dignity as I could while trying hard to avoid sounding like a technological relic from prehistoric times.


Life has changed. I no longer travel without my Blackberry and mobile phone. My slim notebook computer sits snugly in my jacket pocket, and I stay at hotels that have Wi-Fi in the room – no point in taking a chance about an email that appears in your laptop that your Blackberry did not pick up. My electric tooth brush is packed in the toilet kit, and the shaver cum moustache trimmer connects nicely to the 110V outlet that the hotel has thoughtfully provided.


We have become obsessed with gadgets, and find new toys for even the simplest of jobs. My grandmother used a knife to peel potatoes and chop vegetables. No self-respecting housewife can, today, imagine life without that kitchen food processor with ninety three attachments (the manual for which is totally incomprehensible to all except the most tech-savvy).


In the good (??) old days, you waited patiently for a couple of hours after “booking” a “trunk call” to a town thirty kilometers away. Today, a mobile phone that cannot access the internet, show your location on a map, monitor your biorhythm and, perhaps, speak out your horoscope for the day, is considered to be obsolete.


LCD panels (we no longer refer to them as televisions), portable DVD players, electronic aids for playing, sleeping, walking, breathing, cooking, eating, or, indeed, relaxing, are necessities.


These gadgets have become addictive and, perhaps, in a sense, debilitating.


Yet, we love them. Why? Because they are fun; because they give us bragging rights; because the neighbour has one. We regress into childhood. We play out our fantasies.


It is not enough that a watch tells the time. It has to tell what time it is in six different time zones. And, there is a work-day watch, and an evening social outing version. We have become obsessed with time, but for other reasons.


I knew an elderly friend of my parents who took pride in maintaining a 1950s Buick in gleaming condition, and occasionally took it out of the garage. If you don’t change your three year-old jalopy today, you are considered to be dim.


The fact is that obsolescence is built into our psyche and the products that we are fixated on.


Prehistoric man crafted bigger and better sticks to fight stronger and dangerous animals. The bigger the stick, the stronger he thought he was. In the natural progression of human evolution, men who make gadgets survive to make more men who make increasingly more complex gadgets.


Viewed objectively, we are into that mind-set today.


We have become too dependent on gizmos. And, we have become extremely lazy, too.


Let me share a secret here. I was exaggerating. I don’t own a Blackberry, my laptop actually weighs three kilograms – leaving me with a permanently lop-sided droop of the shoulder, and the only hotels I can afford to live in have not yet heard about telephones leave alone the internet.


But, that is beside the point.


March 26, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that | ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: