In the word of Six-Inches-Something

T S Haokip 25-07-2010 Imphal Free Press

The smartphone world appears to be the most favoured place to visit, among those permitted, during the past 70 odd days of #Lockdown. As I imagine a world without smartphones and the unthinkable hardship its absence could result, I realised I am on the verge of being rendered phoneless as the number of smartphones in the house is now reduced to one from two a couple of months back. Imagine the fact that smartphones are the number one choice of medium to access essential items and services like banking transactions, ordering groceries, and most importantly accessing news. According to the India Digital News Report 2019 published by Reuters Institute, 68% of Indians identified smartphones as their primary source of consuming News. That legitimises my curiosity as to why the medium through which an essential item is accessed is not classified as an essential item.

Just a week into lockdown, while I was busy on my phone scrolling the updates in some news portals, my son and daughter were fighting over who’d get  mommy's phone. I don't know how different an experience it is watching Peppa pig on TV from Mobile. But they both are drawn to the one with smaller screen size. It could be the result of the mobile craze, an entitlement relaxed strictly for lockdown period, considering their understandable boredom devoid any schooling or playing at parks or for that matter- not being outdoor at all even once in the past few days then. In the ensuing fiasco, my mobile phone was thrown against the wall at an unimaginably powerful force and the phone died instantly. 

The following days, the only Smartphone in the house would be juggled between four people, making my phone looked like that coke bottle in 'The God Must Be Crazy' movie. The only difference being, I paid a handsome amount for it and won't ask anyone to get rid of it. If my better half has a good excuse for needing the phone to place an order for essential items online, I have 'important messages from workplace' or 'accessing news' justifications to get hold of the phone. As for my children, they are blessed with the gift of crying for what they desire. 

In the course of time I have realised that our world has been reduced to 6 inches something and smartphones have become our best friends. At the start, it was a medium that connects us with our best friends. Of late, our best friends are just one of the many reasons that connect us to our smartphones. Movies, viral videos, games gossips, news, etc dominate the majority of our phone-time. 

I remember an incident a few years back when the internet was suspended for a week due to some law and order situation. It was unimaginably hard. But the silver lining was that, families start communicating and there were laughs with people and not just those that came from a room with just one occupant in it. There were human interactions of speaking and listening to people around them. That was quite the opposite of a situation where WhatsApp message in the group named "My Family" would show notifications "time for lunch everybody." Nevertheless, the drawbacks do exist. Among many, not being able to connect to people


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