Saturday, April 9, 2016

Information Overload

On route to Delhi in Duronto Express, I was awake at 5.30am without an alarm. I've always marveled at this, how our bodies know about our timetables subconsciously.

I was seated next to this man and his 6-7 year old son. Sleepy that I was, I had dozed off for an hour, only to regain consciousness when the train halted.

The father-son duo got down to grab a snack while I munched on the peanut butter sandwich that I had packed the previous night. They walked back to the seat with a not-so-healthy happy meal and the child mumbled 'Is it Tirana, Dad?' His father nodded in denial and the child continued scrolling through his iPhone.

Obese, with more fat than features visible, the child was a living example of all that's going wrong in today's world. They continued some quizzing, talking about facts and figures that he checked from the screen that sat blinding him. It made me thank my parents in a whisper. As a child, I was always active, playing cricket throughout my childhood days. There were books that my father would buy on a regular basis, to stimulate the brain, making sure I knew the world through stories. Mom was always a working woman who juggled home, parenting us and cooking us healthy food and never ever relied upon fried and unhealthy fast food to fill our stomachs. Her hard work had paid off and I could only sigh at the child's predicament.

There was still a good one hour to reach my destination and the child turned to me for answers. I was so lost in memories of my healthy and happy childhood that I had missed his question. I looked at him inquisitively and he repeated the question for me. 'Do you know where Mt. Elbrus is?'

I failed to understand how it mattered to him or me. I smiled and told him I didn't know the answer. The kid spat out the answer and the father looked on proudly.

This was exactly what was wrong with the generation I realized. Utilizing time and energies over mugging up information instead of gaining real experiences, learning about nature by playing in sand, getting swollen knees and knowing more about the universe through enriching books with lucid language; these kids were missing a big deal. What about acquiring skills and pursuing hobbies and growing as an individual with talents and determination! All this kid had access to was information. And information can only take you so far.

I wanted to ask the kid, 'Have you seen a sunrise from across the sea shore? Have you experienced the sheer joy that music gives you? How do you spend time with your friends, and give me answers other than gaming and watching movies on the couch in the living room snacking on popcorn!'

Such information overload and yet they get bored. Sigh.


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