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Stranded in the digital world

Elderly spouses sitting on couch at home planning budget check bills cheques, computer, documents and calculator on coffee table, close up cropped concept image, couple manage family expenses concept  

I am 89-plus living in Bengaluru. My troubles started after my husband passed away three months ago. Till then, he was somehow managing the computer, smartphone and all digital transactions, though with difficulty.

I had to book a gas cylinder the other day. I dialled the number given. A voice at the other end said, “Press one”, but I could not find the number on the phone. The voice went on saying press this, press that. At my age with poor eyesight and shaking hands, I just could not keep up with the instructions. I gave up and had to take the help of my neighbour to book a cylinder. Is it not easier to just dial and book your cylinder, as of old?

After my water purifier was serviced, I was told to look for an OTP to confirm that the service had been completed. The person concerned was right in front of me, but it became absolutely necessary to tell him the OTP. So helpless and flustered was I that I had to take the help of my neighbours.

One day, I needed to visit the bank for some work. The official said (without even lifting his head from work), “Why do you take the trouble of coming to the bank, madam? You just have to download the app (what is an app?; is it an apple).” I was foxed! I do not know what download or app means.

Moreover, important communication from the bank comes on the smartphone. I am totally ignorant of the risks in operating bank accounts through the digital mode; we read about so many frauds taking place, people’s bank accounts getting wiped out. Is it wise to allow people like me to handle financial or banking work digitally? The younger generation may find it convenient and easy to handle “complicated” business involving money matters; but for people of my generation, it is a cruel joke being played on us. There should be an option to do our work in the old conservative method.

In these stressful COVID-19 days, when we do not have any social interactions, it is a pleasant change to visit a bank where you meet people, exchange pleasantries, say “hello” to the people behind the counters, and have a cup of coffee with friends you may meet there. It is a welcome and pleasant break in our otherwise dull existence. Isn’t it?

There is also a larger point here. Be it banking transactions, online education, or booking a COVID-19 bed through the municipality, a lot depends on whether one has a smartphone or not. For those who don’t, life has become very difficult indeed.

jeyamanantharaman@gmail.com


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 12:32:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/stranded-in-the-digital-world/article34456760.ece

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