Evolving sensibilities

These days technology does a great job of helping us communicate quickly and brings closer family, friends and community at large. Facebook, Twitter, IMO and Whatsapp have become very popular. Who can resist free phone and video communications?

Whatsapp entered my life a while ago and it began with a group of family members that live across the globe. It was great to chat in real time and have those video calls. Once it became staple, the video calls stopped but the forwards increased.

Earlier it used to be meaningful conversation and catching up. Once everyone was up to speed and there was nothing new to discuss, it moved on to lazy forwards. These consist of gif, photos and messages of wisdom or knowledge. Of late, quite a lot of forwards seem shallow or unreal. Every morning, I wake up to around 100 messages from three groups. Family group (maternal and paternal) and friends group (from college).

Two recent messages jolted me out of my routine. The first one was a video of a Korean man on an escalator. The narrative indicated that he was a CEO of some company and that he died falling on the escalator while using his phone. Though the message was couched as warning people of dangers of not paying attention to where one is going, it seemed to be in bad taste. In my opinion, there was no reason to include the video. Just a text description would have sufficed. Then the next day, I got a video that showed a man being mauled by three tigers while people were screaming and the guards were firing shots to frighten the tigers.

I was prompted to write this blog piece because the people in my whatsapp group are quite educated and I think of them as reasonable and rational people. However, when I objected to these kind of videos, one of them asked me to chill. Another said it is a cautionary message and was Kosher. I had to actually explain to them that if any of the victims in the video was their relative or dear one, would they have liked such a video floating around uncontrollably in the internet? It was then that the penny dropped.

Of late, I have started thinking that may be I have not kept up with the times and am old fashioned. It still seems incredible to think that our human sensibilities could potentially evolve (for the lack of a better word) into a jaded one that would look at such videos and not feel any pain, empathy or revulsion. Do we need overwhelming of our senses to communicate thoughts?

Maybe, the previous generations felt the same and had grave reservations about the future of humanity but humanity carried on. In the future, are we going to use all emerging technologies and evolve into something that cannot be reasonably called human? both in form and substance?

My therapy is this blog post. Please let me know what you think about this issue?

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