Guests in Digital age.
When I was young (in 50’s and 60’s) we were thrilled to have guests in our parent’s home. Whenever guests arrived, there was excitement all around, the guests were greeted with a great warmth by hugs and kisses. Our mother would promptly run to the kitchen and bring water and refreshments for them. Guests would also reciprocate by taking out a packet of sweets or fruit from their satchel and we as kids were deeply engrossed in their talks. In the evenings the guests would talk about various household aspects and anecdotes. A good dinner would be prepared for them. Guests would affectionately talk to each member of the family including the kids and exchange notes on the family affairs. There were no interruptions as gadgets like TV, phones, internet, ipads did not exist then. Then guests would stay in our house for couple of days. Each day they would be taken to various places around our home like our agriculture fields, local temples and other places of interests; the hosts had all the time for the guests and the guests had all the time for the hosts. In fact the arrival and stay of the guests would be a kind of festivity for all of us.
Anyway the times have changed and with the modern technology the devices like smartphones, palmtops, laptops, wifi connectivity etc have been ushered in. This has changed the behavior of the guests as well as the hosts. I shall present below a scenario when the guests visit some family now.
The guests arrive and ring up the door bell. The occupants of the house are busy watching the TV or are on their laptops/smartphones and hardly anybody hears the door bell. The door bell is rung up twice or thrice. Husband tells the wife to go and look as to who has come. The guests are let into the house with a very formal greetings like “Hye, How are you doing?” and the answer is equally mechanical “I am Good, how about you?”. The guests are made to sit and the wife rushes to the husband to come quickly to the living room, as he is still at his smartphone but quickly winds up. The guests are asked about any refreshment and a very formal interaction goes on. At this stage the host’s wife excuses herself stating that she has to finish an important chat and would be back soon. The kids of the host’s family do not bother to come to the living room and are still busy playing ‘Angry birds’ on their ipad. Anyway they are compelled to meet the guests. Now about the behavior of the guests who are accompanied by their kids is also very strange. They are not interested in drinking any refreshment or indulging in a serious chat. One kid of the guests is more forthright and asks whether there is wifi connectivity in the house, if so what is the password? He is provided with the password and the complete lot of the guests input these parameters into their smartphones and get busy with their respective digital activity. At best some friendship is made with the hosts on the face book by inviting and accepting each other. In the meantime one of the guests requests to see his favorite sport’s channel as IPL league important match is going on and he cannot afford to miss out on it. In the meantime one of the kids of the guests demand an ipad along with its password as she has to play her favorite game of talking Tom. The guests stay till dinner, hardly any family talk is made or notes exchanged. Guests and hosts are talking with snobbish attitude about their latest acquisition of digital gadgets. A toddler of the guests does not eat food until a perticular channel on the Youtube is not played.
After the dinner is over, the guests leave with a very formal greeting and invitation, ” Do drop in sometimes, we had a nice time.”
One remembers the good old days when there was so much of warmth when guests visited you. Today we are connected globally to the entire world but have lost personal connection with each other.