The Technology Ass
By Suresh Govindarajan
It was after so many years of our marriage, almost ten years since we saw a movie in a cinema hall together, that we decided to go for a movie. First thing we did was to identify the date and time which was suitable, rather than any particular movie. Secondly, a cinema theatre which is nearest to our house so that minimum time and energy is spent. After deciding the date, time and venue, I went to the cinema theatre and reserved two tickets for a 'box', which is the highest one in terms of cost, without any idea what it would look like and what the movie was.
It turned out to be a latest 'Hindi hit'. Never mind! In fact, the first movie we saw together was a Hindi movie and now after 10 years we are going to be in a cinema theatre for another Hindi movie. It was a nice coincidence! The plan had just started working.
The tickets were in hand and the big day arrived. We were most eager to reach the theatre well before the movie starts, mainly to find a parking space and also to just see what the cinema hall, which is rated the best in the city, looks like!
When we entered the theatre, we realized that we could neither call it a theatre nor a hall but in fact, it is a complex with many activities and showing movies was just one of them. The gatekeeper told us to go to the second floor for our 'box'. Surprisingly, there was no lift (most probably because it is mainly the youngsters who come to this cinema to watch movies!) When we entered the 'box' it was looking just like the way it is named. A comfortable cushion seat; more comfortable than the 'executive class' seat of an airline! We sat comfortably and with the dim lights on, the advertisements and trailers started coming on to the screen. The sound effects were such that each component of the composed music was flowing in to the ears from different directions. A feeling of disintegration of the integrated music!
Then suddenly, we started hearing some more additional sounds. It was the mobile phones ringing. A very common scene in many public places today, but the first time we were experiencing this in a cinema hall! They started beeping. I cautiously kept mine on silence mode just to avoid any inconvenience to others. But others didn't do so. Probably it is not required to be so thoughtful! I am ignorant about it. Many viewers simply started talking in their cell phones. Only those who probably didn't want the callers to know of their whereabouts went out of the hall to talk. That way there was a frequent movement of viewers every now and then. To our surprise, a person just in front of us finalized a big business deal sitting coolly at the cinema hall while watching the movie with his family. I just thought for a while, why did he come to the movie at all? Forgetting the movie on the big screen, I was just admiring the technological advancement that we have achieved in communication sector.
It was time for the interval. The shops inside the theatre are no less than the 'malls'. Neatly dressed boys were operating touch screen monitors to sell 'popcorn'! The toilets are no way inferior to '5-star' standards. The corridors are decorated well and one would doubt whether he is in a cinema theatre or in the corridors of a palace! One could see the influence of technology everywhere.
It was after the interval, and suddenly I got a beep in my cell phone. '1 message received', an SMS, while the hero was dancing with the heroine surrounded by many others who couldn't become one. I took out the cell phone and saw the message. The massage was, 'your salary has been credited in your account and your total available balance is Rs.XXXXX'. It was from my banker, intimating the transactions taken place in my bank account. After this SMS, my thinking got shifted totally away from the movie to the further technological advancement we have achieved. The information technology revolution! This SMS was possible because of the integration of information technology and communication (telecom technology) while I was engaged in an entertainment. No wonder it is said we are in 'ICE' age (Information, Communication and Entertainment)!
More than the movie, it was an experience of the technological advancements which we have achieved over the years. Nevertheless, I was still not feeling comfortable when I reached home after the movie. It was not because I could not enjoy the movie; rather it was because of the limitations of technology in fulfilling the basic human needs.
A series of questions arose. Why there is still widespread poverty despite so much technological development? Why there are so many deaths from hunger? There is so much turbulence in the minds of people: lust, anger, greed, pride, delusion, jealousy and so on - like ferocious sharks in the ocean - causing everlasting human sufferings. Will technology find a solution to this? Will it ensure that the minds of the entire human community are filled with love and affection towards everything and every being? Will the technology help in bringing peace to the human mind?
Technology, after all, appears to be an ass. An ass carrying a load knows only the weight and not its worth. The ass never bothers whether it is carrying sandalwood or sand. Technology is no way different. It does not know whether it is being used for 'human good' or 'human pleasure' or for 'destruction', including its own. It is, ultimately, the operator of the technology who has to use this 'ass' properly, including for finding the solution to his own suffering.