Unraveling the ‘aporia’ within the self

Graphic by Hoor

When one begins to think of technology, the one thing that comes to mind is the accessibility of everything on our fingertips. One click and ten thousand things to scroll down brings in a lot of options to think about and choose from.For example, I enjoy baking and am always on the lookout for new recipes and a google search provides me with thousands of mug cake recipes to choose from. The options are overwhelming in my mind and consume a lot of my time and energy. Having said that, I find the best recipe for a novice like me to begin with but the crucial thing is to be able to get my ‘sweet’ desired result along with a balanced time spent on looking for it on the internet. Hence, it is important to know and examine the relationship that I share with technology.

With the advent of the feature of short videos (less than one minute) across all platforms, the attention span of an average human has gone on a downward spiral and led to an increase of  ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), especially among kids as it is one of the consequences of overusing smartphones. For example, I see my younger cousin (who is three years old) hooked to these videos and refuses to go outside to play because of the sheer convenient entertainment that he gets on a smartphone. This relationship is ‘toxic’ for lack of a better word.  The constant subjection of the human brain and attention to enormous information has resulted in the formation of knots of thoughts in the mind and the body. The need to connect with the world has ironically led to a disconnect of a human from his/her own self.

The beginning of the pandemic and the lockdown seemed to be the last nail in the coffin when it comes to use of technology. I can’t even comprehend my life without technology in the pandemic because the entire system of education shifted to an online mode of learning and still follows a blended mode. Denial of access to any technological devices or the internet would mean no university to go to or no degree to pursue which even goes on to translate to the denial of the work experience which I am exposed to because of technology. I would have seeped into the gulf of monotony or lack of purpose in life as a result of absence of the virtual world.

The best way to make use of technology is to work through it via a balanced approach and  to also occasionally disconnect from the virtual world and perform a sort of ‘Tech Shabbat’ as Riya Roy likes to call it in her newsletter, ‘The Nook’. The Shabbat explains the microcosm of what my day would look like in a world without technology. The first thing would be journaling in the morning to collect my thoughts and unwind the emotions in my mind. Writing down thoughts helps regain clarity so as to reassess situations and give oneself a fresh perspective. Grounding one’s energies is essential to be present in the moment rather than move around in a vicious cycle of craving information. The breaking down of thoughts is important for the mind to be healthy and function in a balanced manner.

The second discussion to be taken into consideration would be the decluttering of spaces. As humans who belong to the Gen-Z, decluttering a gmail account is a lot more important than decluttering the ‘physical’ space around us. Decluttering is another therapeutic activity for  me as it feels like being able to organize my feelings very much like writing. Literature has emphasized enough on the importance of  spaces and the character attributes of a person. For example, the lack of variety and the mundane experience of life around the spaces which Vladimir and Estragon occupy as two protagonists in Waiting for Godot makes them feel frustrated is emblematic of the very experience that we humans face as individuals as well. Technology and the growth of social media across the globe has confined the spaces of a human’s interaction in and around the environment which he occupies. Hence, we should take a step back until our life becomes like ‘nothing happens’ which is reiterated by  Vladimir and Estragon in the play.

Another misconception that the capitalist world has filled us with is equating one’s self-worth with one’s productivity and I was a victim of this notion of self-worth which hampered my  undergraduate days to a significant extent. Then I took my shelter amidst physical books and started  savouring solitude along with making a conscious choice to disconnect so as to minimize the noise of the hustle bustle of life around us. My life as an introvert helps me regain my energies and process difficult emotions during my fixed time of solitude. 

A rather overlooked activity that’s so crucial to do on a day without technology is to go out for a walk alone. Eminent philosophers have laid emphasis on the link between one’s creative inspiration or endeavours and the act of walking and have gone on to talk about the fact that a lot of thinking begins in walking. Rousseau in Reveries of the Solitary Walker  discusses the therapeutic impact of walking on him. He says : “I have never thought so much,existed so much ,lived so much,been so much myself …as in the journeys which I have made alone and on foot”. Life without technology is life experienced within oneself. It is not the capturing of the moment but the ‘living’ of the moment in the true sense of the word. Walking also reinforces Romanticism’s idea of ‘return to nature”.  The need for me is to literally turn to nature for answers sometimes rather than look for a review online because individual experiences are important to fathom and embrace the beauty in one’s life.

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