When I was 24, I swore that I would never use a smartphone. It seemed like an Orwellian abstraction. A sling blade that hurled a hateful stone at the third eye of the collective consciousness. A step closer towards a totalitarian future in which the government implants computer chips in our brains to keep track of us. It felt wrong. More importantly, I couldn’t deal with my parents calling me anytime they suspected I was up to something fishy.
I have since realized how useful and entertaining it is. A talking tin can, a portable media player, a video game console and a notebook. I was hooked. I still am. But I am also aware that it can be damaging. In today’s fast-paced digital age, extreme caution must be exercised while forging a purposeful relationship with your smartphone. Because it could damage those you share with family members, friends, and office colleagues.
Everyone may end up thinking you are a bad person. They may associate you with unspeakably awful things that are undeserving for someone of your fine upbringing and stature. We don’t want that, do we? You deserve better. You always have. So, please download these four smartphone apps to become a better human being.
In Karate, one of the most important lessons you learn is to take an ass-kicking. You understand that you need to pick yourself up and move on.
Before every session, you socialize with your opponents. They are your friends. You like each other. You also take pleasure in roundhouse-kicking them during a sparring match. Because there are competitive elements to it.
Karate breaks down the art of fighting into algorithms. A series of rapid-fire decisions. And at times, someone figures it out quicker than you do. Then, you will fall down, palming the bridge of your nose in pain. When you get back up on your feet, you are stronger in the broken places.
I haven’t had a satisfying day of birding in a long time. Two weekends ago, the rains came uninterrupted and washed my chances away. And then all through the week the sun was out, bright and proud.
Last Friday night saw the city shrouded in gloom again. I drove about 50 kilometers away from the city on Saturday morning anyway. The sky pointed and laughed at me, and howled furiously, garden-hosing the ground below. My chances of spotting a bird other than one of the usual suspects were slim. I drove back, feeling like a wet mongrel, embarrassed about my optimism.
I have wanted to write about modernized existential despair for long. How it seems to be a generational malady, thriving on our indifference towards discovery as opposed to invention. I didn’t because I was unable to succinctly encapsulate a short introduction I had in mind into words. Instead I had a sound-bite for it. A piece of guttural noise.
The English language kept failing me (or vice versa). So I decided to move on. Only lately did I realize that it was 2015. It is so easy to record and stream digital audio these days. Even by people who spell “your” as “you’re”. And I had broadband connectivity and laughably low expectations.
Parenting in our species is a tough nut to crack. As a child-free adult, I can’t even begin to fathom the stress involved. The lack of sleep. The pressures of safety. Financial pressures. I don’t get how they do it, but I just know it’s hard. It is no excuse though some parents make for such terrible role models. Children can learn so much from them on how not to behave, and what not to do with their lives.
When I was much younger I was bitter about the success stories that was I felt critical towards. Like most of us dealing with angst, I had a loose grasp on how the world should work. I sat on a high horse and complained about how Titanic was the crappiest movie ever. That bubblegum pop was a medical hazard to music lovers. The worst offenders, to me, were those similar to me, but who just had it much easier in life.
It never seemed to matter how ungrateful or undeserving they were.
To beg, borrow and steal
from Charles Dickens,
2015 was the best of times
and it was the worst.
Perhaps 2016 will be the same,
but I shall recollect, with love,
and by no other name, how
even the fiercest winds never
once frightened away the birds.