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What comes next?

Writing a letter using pen and paper is an experience to remember, which, however, is soon becoming a thing of the past. Letters not only convey information but also have an emotional and personal touch. Delivering letters take time, not instantaneous as an e-mail.

But those days, people never thought of the delay and eagerly awaited the postman who rode a bicycle with mails and money orders. There were mainly three modes of communications then: letters, telegrams and telephones.

Telephones were rare, generally possessed only by the rich and business people. Owning a telephone was a symbol of pride. For any important conversations, common people depended on telephones at post offices. A messenger from the receiving-end post office would intimate the called party about the call. He or she would have to go to the post office to take the call. The whole process would take a few hours.

When our SSLC (old pattern 11th standard) public examination mark sheets were computerised for the first time, teachers used to threaten us that if we did any mischief, we would be punished by the computers with wrong mark entries. At that time, we were under the wrong notion that computers could do mistakes. We did not know that it works according to the program and never makes any mistake or mischief by itself.

Telegraphic messages were generally used for emergency situations such as serious health conditions or death. The words used were crisp and to the point. As time passed on, telephones and telegrams slowly took a back seat. On July 14, 2013, the 163-year-old telegram service came to an end.

With technological growth, landline telephones were made available for the public based on prior registration. Public telephone booths mushroomed on the roads. The era of mobile phones made tremendous impact on the public. I remember my first mobile phone which was a quarter of the size of a brick. Interestingly, on the first day I used a mobile phone, it started ringing when I was teaching in a classroom. Embarrassed by the unceremonious sound, I picked it up, without practically knowing which button to press, though I was instructed how to attend a call. Luckily, a student came to my rescue.

Later, I started using a smaller phone which became an essential part of my pants pocket. I connected with people using text messages. Then I started using computers and e-mails. Smartphones came with added features such as WhatsApp, banking apps, camera and video.

When I was young, I never imagined washing machines, dishwashers and cleaning robots were in the realm of possibility. New technologies, applications and devices come up almost on a daily basis. Convenience, easy handling and novelty are the key features attracting people to them. People have to run the race by updating their knowledge of the enormously growing trends.

Elderly people may find it difficult to cope with the latest technologies, apps and devices. The natural process of ageing goes disproportionately with advances in technology developments. Remembering user IDs, passwords, changing passwords periodically and using the keyboard are really a challenge for them. The younger generation will end up with similar or even more difficult situations on growing old.

The world has shrunk, connecting people faraway so easily. Simultaneously, the world is also facing many related problems such as hacking, spams, online scams, morphs and cybercrimes. The only solution is to tackle them cautiously following certain standard precautions.

The race for new arrivals in technologies has become a craze. It will never end. People always have the question "What comes next?" lingering in their minds.

profga@yahoo.co.in

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 1:23:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/what-comes-next/article33828253.ece

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