By Kirat Shukla:
The following text comes from personal experience and numerous observations made in restaurants, coffee shops, and our very own chai tapris.
Stating the obvious but the internet has had a significant impact on almost all aspects of our lives. There are numerous articles and research studies on how the internet has changed social behavior in human beings. The one I discuss further is the drastic change in conversations amongst friends and acquaintances during casual and informal meetings.
As a kid and a teenager, growing up without smartphones and easy access to the internet all day long, the best source of information was asking; asking questions to friends, relatives, parents, colleagues, and to whomsoever you can think of. What followed was not only the answer to that query but a mutual exchange of ideas, knowledge, and sometimes a debate.
Fast forward to today. Debates and talks are already in dire straits with everyone busy on their smartphones and tablets. What is more worrying is that conversations and freedom to ask questions seem to be fading away as well. Instead of asking someone we now prefer to ‘Google’ everything. Blame for this trend can partly be placed on the changing mindsets regarding information.
Rather than responding to an answer or a debate to a question, we now tend to respond with “Tere ko ye nahi pata?” (Don’t you know this?) or “Tere ko itna nahi pata?” (Don’t you know this much?) These questions may seem harmless, but they are having a significant impact on social structures and people’s mindsets regarding knowledge. We are moving towards a culture where asking questions or not knowing something is directly correlated to one’s intelligence. We tend to keep quiet in discussions on things we do not know and ‘Google’ it later rather than speaking up and asking someone to explain.
A complete cutoff from the internet or an overnight change in the situation is certainly not possible. However, we do need to acknowledge this changing trend and start thinking of ways to implement strategies to bring back debates, discussions, and an environment where not knowing something is considered normal.