If you are one of those who hap­pen to get all worked up about how the other per­son has not re­sponded in­stantly to your mes­sage, read on...

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Time Out - SONAL KALRA

So, Sonal, I have a topic to sug­gest for your column,” said a usu­ally ret­i­cent girl in my team. “The other day I sent you a mes­sage ask­ing if I could re­port a lit­tle late for work,” she went on. “And you didn’t re­ply for a while. In those few min­utes, I was hor­ri­bly stressed that you are up­set about some­thing.”

‘Ar­rey, but I was busy with some­thing and didn’t see your mes­sage im­me­di­ately,’ I said. “Yeah, I know. But it does lead to tremen­dous stress if the boss doesn’t re­ply in­stantly,” she said. I joked with her about how she’s mak­ing me feel like a guilty boyfriend. And then I re­called a con­ver­sa­tion I had over­heard in a restau­rant.

Would you stop judg­ing me al­ready? I don’t eaves­drop, the guys were too loud. Well, okay. I eaves­dropped. But suno toh sahi, it was damn in­ter­est­ing.

“Jaan le rakhi hai yaar Richa ne,” said one guy to his friend. “I love her and all that. But she’s con­stantly on my case if I’m not avail­able on­line 24X7. She keeps a track of when I’m on­line on What­sapp and gives me such grief if I I’ve been on­line oth­er­wise but haven’t re­sponded to her mes­sage yet.” “Girls are like that only,” replied his ge­nius friend, shak­ing his head.

Well, I don’t know if girls are like that, but tech­nol­ogy surely is like that these days. Over­whelm­ing, over­bear­ing! Be­fore the in­stant mes­sag­ing mon­sters in­vaded our civil­i­sa­tion, we were okay with not hear­ing from our loved ones all through the day. But in a bid to outdo each other, tele­com com­pa­nies have taken slo­gans like ‘stay con­nected’ too lit­er­ally, and sadly so have we.

In the day and age when in­stant noo­dles and pre-mixed cof­fee is called a meal with­out blink­ing an eye­lid, in­stant replies on SMSs or What­sapp have also be­come a mea­sure of how much you care for the per­son on the other end.

And iron­i­cally, it has be­come so jus­ti­fied to feel up­set about why some­one did not re­spond to our mes­sage im­me­di­ately that the other per­son is left with no choice but to act guilty and de­fen­sive, with­out re­al­is­ing that there is no such rule in life that says you don’t care for the sender if you do not re­spond within seven sec­onds of read­ing a mes­sage. Then there are What­sapp groups where copy pasted jokes ar­rive from all di­rec­tions at the speed of mis­siles and ev­ery­one in the group is sup­posed to ‘lol’ well in time to be safely con­sid­ered a so­cial an­i­mal.

In some ways, this stress of always be­ing avail­able also man­i­fests it­self in the way we re­spond to phone calls. You could have sat down to eat a meal, which by the way, still re­mains the pri­mary thing you are liv­ing and work­ing so hard for, and the phone rings. Im­me­di­ately, the meal takes a back­seat and you ei­ther get up to take a call or now since cell phones are al­most ap­pended to our bod­ies like an ex­tended limb, you just take the call there and then.

If you don’t and there is an emo­tional loved one on the other side, your en­tire day can go in mak­ing amends. There is a col­league who starts most of his con­ver­sa­tions with me by com­plain­ing about how I didn’t take his call the last time. Once I tried telling him po­litely that till the day I spend on buy­ing a cell phone and pay its monthly bills, it’s I who will de­cide when to pick up a call, not the caller. He took truck loads of of­fence, but thank­fully the grum­bling ceased for a while.

My point is sim­ple. Tech­nol­ogy is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, not the master of our life. If the state of our re­la­tion­ships is go­ing to be dic­tated by the stress of how much we are mak­ing use of that tech­nol­ogy, then we’ll only end up ty­ing our­selves in knots. If you are one of those who hap­pen to get all worked up about how the other per­son has not re­sponded in­stantly to your mes­sage, con­sider this:


By get­ting con­stantly up­set that your boyfriend or girl­friend isn’t re­spond­ing to your mes­sages at the speed of light, you are not show­ing love, you are show­ing in­se­cu­rity. 2 Fre­quent dis­play of in­se­cu­rity will not make him come closer to you, it’ll make him Google for ways to hide his on­line sta­tus from you. 3 Hiding his or her on­line sta­tus just to main­tain peace in the relationship is ac­tu­ally mak­ing them lie to you, some­thing that they wouldn’t want to do if you were not this hy­per about in­stant re­sponses. 4 Ly­ing in a relationship weak­ens its very foun­da­tion, fur­ther fu­elling in­se­cu­rity. 5 Fi­nally, there is no proof to sup­port the no­tion that re­la­tion­ships based on two peo­ple con­stantly con­nected to each other are stronger than those where each per­son gets space to breathe.

On the con­trary, the lat­ter may just be stronger since there’s no stress to lie or keep de­fend­ing one­self.

Here’s some un­so­licited gyan for Richa, jisne jaan le rakhi hai. Re­mem­ber that the def­i­ni­tion of love got writ­ten ages be­fore hu­man be­ings learned to even spell tech­nol­ogy. Fo­cus on trust, and noth­ing else. The day your boyfriend gets the con­fi­dence to say ‘I was chill­ing out with friends’ rather than say­ing, the phone was in the pocket and I didn’t hear the beep, he’d be in a much se­cure space in the relationship. And the day you learn to chill out with your own friends with­out be­ing un­der the stress of check­ing your phone ev­ery sec­ond for his re­ply, you’d be in bliss too. Try toh karo.

Sonal Kalra has dis­cov­ered that by block­ing a con­tact for a few min­utes and then un­block­ing them, you can ef­fec­tively hide the ‘last seen’ time-stamp from What­sapp. Don’t laugh! No one told her that you can just de­ac­ti­vate it in the ‘set­tings’ menu. Any­way, mail her at sonal.kalra@hin­dus­tan­times.com, face­book.com/son­al­kalraof­fi­cial. Fol­low on Twit­ter@son­al­kalra

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