Pratyush was getting very irritated sitting at the Bank’s reception with his father for over an hour. He had finished reading the 3 months old India Today cover-to-cover and had observed the people, mostly of older generation coming in for such trivial issue such as updating their passbook or withdrawing cash which can be done at home or any ATM. His irritation was now solely aimed at his father and he blurted out, “I told you so many times to learn on-line banking, but you are so adamant.”

“What will be good in learning internet banking?” His father asked.

“You could have easily done this job sitting at home… what more, you can actually buy things sitting at home through on-line shopping apps. But you won’t go for such easy method… you will waste valuable time sitting here.” Pratyush continued.

“Okay, I understand that if I could use online banking, I would not have to step out from home.”

“Yes, precisely, we need not have wasted the last one hour sitting here.”

Ashish, the doting father of Pratyush said something that stunned Pratyush and silenced him…

“What do you achieve by saving so much time? You (people) are always glued to your smartphones or the laptop… have you in last one year called on your aunt who stays about a kilometer away or Indro uncle across the street who had a bad fall last week and is bed ridden? I have always given priority to human relations and regularly checked on all my uncles and aunts even if it was just a 15 minutes visit. What is the point of saving time if we cannot share it with our loved ones?”

The people standing nearby were attentive to what the old man was saying as was Pratyush…

Ashish continued, “Since the time we entered the bank I have four of my friends and exchanged pleasantries… you know, I hardly ever leave my room let alone the house so whenever I can, it brings immense joy to meet up with people known and unknown. At my age, I have ample time but hardly any company. The online apps whether banking or shopping will provide the service/product at my door step but not the warmth of human company that I miss so badly.

You remember, couple of years ago I was hospitalized… the pharmacist from whom I buy my medicine was the guy visiting me at the hospital, looking after my needs. The modern apps probably would send a customary email or message wishing speedy recovery sans any real emotion but can they really understand the pain of loneliness of a retired old man?

Few weeks back your mother fell down during morning walk in the park, who do you think picked her up and brought her back to home? It’s not your internet banking or the online shopping apps…they may know her account number or house address but not her personally, especially when she’s just human lying on the ground. The guys who helped her back on feet and brought her home are the ones with whom we interact everyday…in the park, in the market…

If everything becomes online, people will miss-out on human touch… Today, the apartments have made us “apart” instead of bringing us together… we get to know of passing away of our neighbor because of the stench of rotting body!! Is this humanity? In my childhood, there used to be one or two television in the entire neighborhood… we enjoyed the weekly Chitrahaar and Hindi Cinema watching it together. Today, each household has multiple television sets and gadgets that keep the individual cooped up in their rooms… sitting across the table, the youngsters converse through messaging apps instead of talking to each other… where are we headed to?

You see that bank teller as the guy who disburses cash or the shop salesman as just a salesman but miss out the human behind the façade of the job they are doing… I see them as a fellow human, read their stories in their eyes, understand their unsaid words, in short can empathize with them… it somehow binds us as a humanity. Your online apps can provide the service but can never replace this bonding of humans.”

“Is technology bad for humanity?” Pratyush asked.

“No, technology is not bad at all. In fact it is boon for the humanity in this time of pandemic and lockdown. Millions of students and professionals are using the “Zoom” to further their studies and work. It is great but we must not get addicted to the devices…it is perhaps equal to or worse than drug addiction. Both alienate us from our family, the loved ones and make us zombies!! We must aware of this… We must encourage use of technology while developing relations with fellow humans and not vice-versa… we must not become slave of technology!!

These days, waking up, the first thing a person do is to check his device (mobile or laptop) instead of greeting his/her family members…this trend is dangerous for mankind…

However, I must acknowledge that apps like Facebook have connected many of us who have lost touch years ago for various reasons. Today, I am able to interact with my long lost classmates because of apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.

Few months ago, Asha Bhonsle the singer had posted a picture of her at a concert with caption “I am surrounded by people but completely disconnected because each one of them are busy with their handheld devices.”

I may be wrong or perhaps right, I think you guys are more familiar with the Brand Logo than the people behind them. By all means use and take full advantage of the technology but also put aside your devices to interact and share the joys of your loved ones.” Ashish stopped to take a deep breath.

The Bank Manager, Debabrata called out “Ashish da”

Suddenly, Pratyush could see that a human bonding with another human instead of a Customer interacting with the Bank Manager… he had tried to teach online transactions to his father but the Dad taught him human relation in just a few minutes.

3 thoughts on “For The 90’s Kids

  1. Nice story. While technology has helped to bridge a global gap by connecting people via the digital world, those who are physically close together are often far apart due to their inability to separate themselves from their mobile devices. Technology has modified human behaviour by creating a gap between people and reducing intimacy. Sometimes, we do long for the physical proximity, that touch, that hug, the sharing of the time, space, and activity together. The equilibrium has definitely shifted.

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  2. Very touching. But the problem is bankers themselves encourage their customers to go online, courtesy “Digital India” introduce by the PM few years back. It also helps the bank to manage less crowd. Digital technology has lots of advantages, but it surely has affected human relations.

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  3. Very true. While technology has brought a sea-change in our lives, we have somewhat become a less humane. We may think we are more connected now but come to think of it , are we? I hardly do any online shopping because I prefer to go out and meet people, converse with them and choose the items carefully which I intend to buy simply because I prefer to go out, walk a little, meet some people on my way, discuss politics or any other subject. This is not to say that I don’t use the internet or online services. I use it all the time but there are certain things that I still prefer doing physically.

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