Civilisation explores its dark side and embarks on a dangerous experiment – one that doesn’t involve technology

On November 22, 2012, disaster struck the world — actually, it struck just parts of Australia, but since their cricket team was getting beaten by every other country, the nation decided to adopt the American motto of ‘We are the world’ and focus only on its Big Bash league. And thus, the disaster was dubbed to be one of global proportions.

A telecom major suffered a blackout because of a fire and it led to a world that was left bereft of technology. Research indicates that on an average, people had to spend 10.59 days without Internet, 10.12 days without a landline and 4.21 days without mobile phone service. However, what the research failed to measure was the volume of tears shed by many — living without technology was bad news, but if there was something worse than feeling bad, it was the fact that no one could post how they felt, online.

Soon light dawned on mankind. The blackout wasn’t when they lost access to technology — it was that prolonged era when they had become slaves to technology. The wise men congregated and soon, arrived at a decision. “We've survived for centuries before computers, so why should we be so dependent on them in the ‘after digital’ era?”

Thus, technology found itself booted out of many houses. Door-to-door salesmen of atlases, dictionaries and encyclopaedias hit jackpot as GPS apps, online thesauri and Google search were abandoned. Kumon classes were over-attended with great zeal as people realised that they had to learn to calculate all over again. Memory Plus tablets (or the equivalent of it Down Under) set new sales records as everyone tried to remember birthdays and phone numbers — the absence of mobile phones meant no birthday alarms or contact lists.

Even old-fashioned mechanical clock businesses that had wound up long ago reopened their shops because digital clocks and LED displays were no longer permitted inside homes. Manual cameras and film were back in vogue and people were spared close-up shots of shoe laces, saliva dribbles of dogs, and of lizards eating moths — luckily for them, both community websites and digital cameras were out.

Banks resumed their duty of being a social hangout for the retired types and pickpockets enjoyed a new lease of life, with people carrying cash instead of credit cards. Post offices did brisk business, selling truckloads of envelopes and letters, while dogs were delighted as more postmen began coming around. Hallmark and Archies were so overwhelmed by the unexpected demise of e-cards that they promptly announced a new occasion to be celebrated — the Kick Tech Butt day.

So, life was chugging along merrily, until things came to a grinding halt. Over the years, Facebook had changed people’s habits as they didn't have to peek into others’ homes, look through keyholes or eavesdrop by the window to know what was going on with the world — the regular status updates would say it all. But now, without social networking sites, it was getting increasingly difficult to find out what people wore in their holidays, how husbands wished wives on their anniversaries and where people binged the previous night. The old-age art of keeping tabs on the neighbours had become extinct. Society went into a deep freeze — people simply had no idea as to what was happening in others’ lives.

It was utterly disgusting. “These days, what happens in the family,” a socially challenged citizen lamented, “stays in the family.” And that was the last straw. Unable to bear it anymore, people threw open the doors to technology once again. The laptops, mobiles, tablets and the internet connection were back. “Never again,” muttered the scarred veterans as they shook their heads gravely.

And they all lived happily ever after, kick-starting the celebrations with the latest status update — Avi was going to wear a pink ribbon around his neck when wishing his wife on their 23rd wedding anniversary.

sureshl.india@gmail.com

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