Of phone calls and messaging…

The grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it?

For those of us, like me, who grew up in an era where it took 2-3 years and a bit of a bribe to get a telephone connection, mobiles would seem like a godsend.

15-odd years later, I am having second thoughts.

A phone was originally intended to be carried around so that one could be reached, and reach others, as a convenience. It quickly morphed into a sort of tracking device, one that you carry around voluntarily and cannot but help answer whenever commanded to.

First it was calls, then WhatsApp came by and upped the game many notches. Then came notifications, double-ticks and one quickly lost all the excuses that remained.

So now here we are, pursued relentlessly by calls, messages and notifications, a connected world brought together, many times unwillingly.

And so as I left both my phones in another room for three hours in the middle of a workweek, I felt the pangs what most term withdrawal symptoms during a digital detox.

I observed myself go from hesitant to paranoid, at all the calls, messages and emails that I was missing and all the “lost business” as a result. I could feel the minutes in my head, like a clock, as I counted down till the time I got the phones back in my hand. If addiction had a definition, this was it.

Funny that we speak about the dangers of addictive drugs, cigarettes and drink, as we go about glued to our phones, swimming in a stream of endless (and often mindless) chatter that clogs our minds and exhausts us.

The best part is that we don’t even realize it. From the time we wake up, till the time we close our eyes, it is relentless.

And so now I have decided to take six hours off every week, consecutively, in the middle of the week, during office hours. No phone, no messages, no email. I will be working, but without any of these distractions. While that does not sound like a lot, try it. It’s much harder than you think!

If you make this a practice though, you will find something else happening. Something pleasant. A peaceful feeling, that you knew many many years before, that you have conveniently forgotten. The feeling of just being, in your thoughts, that are not triggered by a message you received or a tweet that you saw. The feeling of letting time pass by, without the fear of missing out on something…the feeling of being in control of yourself, rather than being controlled by a device one-twentieth your size.

Spend this time with yourself. The best ideas come to you when you are alone, day-dreaming, with nothing interrupting your stream of thoughts. I got a couple of such ideas today. Am sure that there are many more!

See you tomorrow, with the concluding story of Vikram and the Vetāla.