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Posted at: Jun 8, 2018, 12:04 AM; last updated: Jun 8, 2018, 12:04 AM (IST)

Words that mean nothing

Rachna Rana
Words that mean nothing

Rachna Rana

Is technology transforming us into emotionless message-forwarding humanoids? We are mindlessly hitting ‘like’ and sending messages in bulk on social networking sites, but do we mean them? 

My father recently bought a smartphone, but struggled to cope with the various applications. One day, he asked me to find the contact of my ‘Mamaji’ on his Whatsapp list, so he could wish him on his birthday. I found the contact and my father, finding it difficulty to type on the small screen without his glasses, asked me to type for him. I typed ‘Happy Birthday’ in a fraction of a second and handed the phone back to him, pressing the send command.

‘You type so fast,’ my father complimented me, ‘what did you write?’

‘Happy Birthday, what else?’ I asked, bewildered. ‘Only that? You did not send my wishes to him?’he said, admonishing me and began tapping the screen after finding his glasses. Later, I saw he had written a long message: ‘May God bless you and may you live long and healthy’. He also forwarded some loving thoughts to Mamaji on his special day.

I remember when mobile applications were not invented and an e-mail was not easily accessible, we used to wish our friends, relatives in a much better, warm manner. The wishes were more personal and sincere. 

I used to visit card shops to select a greeting card. I would carefully select the picture or graphic on the cover and used to read the message printed inside to decide if it would it be appropriate for the person it was intended for. I used to add my message to the card using glitters and penmanship in my own handwriting. I used to post the card with a smile, imagining the reaction of the person who would open it.

I used to receive many greetings cards which were sent by my friends on special occasions — birthday, Diwali and New Year, with lovely handwritten messages. It was my treasure of memories. I kept them in a wooden box for years.

After the emergence of e-mails, I switched to it like the rest of our busy, lazy world. I used to visit cyber cafés and select an online card and send them out to friends and relatives. As sending a card was free, I used to send it to acquaintances also.

Today, all of us have a multitude of social media applications on our mobile phones, but our wishes have been restricted to only ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Happy Diwali’, ‘Happy New Year’, etc. We are mechanically sending forwarded messages to our near and dear ones. Some people send ‘GM’ instead of wishing ‘good morning’ and ‘GN’ for ‘good night’. Where is the sentiment?

It makes me realise that these applications are of no use if we do not invest emotions in wishing people who matter to us. The messages just remain blinking meaningless letters and not words written with love.

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