I am a slave. I have a very smart phone, who is my BOSS!! It is so smart that firstly it made me fall in love with it and then covertly, enslaved me. It was too subtle for a stupid mind like mine to figure it out. It was smartly making me stupid; atom by atom; cell by cell!
Time passed! Boss made me worked longer and longer. No extra pay for overtime. No salary. No holidays. No sleep. No mingling with my family, my relatives. Just some long distance associations…
I tried to run away a day; very determined to break its prison. But Boss had hacked my biology and psychology. It played with my chemicals. It kept me intoxicated and I hooked up…
My world started shrinking. No evening walks. No book reading with the fragrant pages. No more meetings with plants. No more conversations with birds. Worse, no more articles writing. And no new friends and weakening old relationships.
I was in a new world. Like a new planet of sorts. Bells of temples replaced by tink tink beeps of iPhone. People who used to stare me reading in metro now suddenly with their heads down in smart-phones like an offender in shame. Inquisitive and curious eyes of fellow passengers of rail journeys now fallen upon me in contempt like an iron curtain and their lips tightly locked to outrightly deny any conversation. Earth became season-less with the constant air conditioned climate of my apartment.
Worst of slavery was yet to come. I started distancing from myself. No more self talks. No more philosophical reflections. It was only music, OTT or watching some shit content after office. My life was over. I was fossilised and my time frozen by my Smart Phone Boss!
But I was not that unfortunate. One day, boss was on leave because of internet shutdown. I got a day, I reflected my past glory, my lost freedom and I avowed to break away from prison. I started making efforts. A day, I finally escaped the dark caved prison of Boss. Light again dawned. I breathed air again. Wind touched me. I took sunbath. I spent time with myself. I had tasted life again.
But alas! Boss had laid down AI and IoT systems. Spies of boss noted me getting free. They still had my key. They again manipulated my biology and forced me in the dark prison again.
The struggle continued for days, weeks and months. My efforts and my attempts to break the prison became frequent, more intense. Also, prison inmates were growing each day and prison got overcrowded. Boss was also struggling to manage the new inmates.
Iron cuts the Iron; I had heard in childhood. So, can I defeat this techno boss with a techno friend? I thought. I knew that in my want to be extra ordinary, I had lost even being ordinary. So, I was determined to do the ordinary stuff and what miracles I see. Prison cells loosened on me and I got free from handcuffs. Once my Boss who was a prison now became a rented small apartment where I go at will and come out at my will. I got free! What ordinary I did?
First, I called my Techno Friend for help! You guessed it? It was my friend NOKIA KEYPAD.
As soon as my office work is done, I would switch off the Boss and switch on my Nokia. I bought a new contact which I shared with 6 people to whom my death and life matters. And thus I reclaimed my time and got the entire evening and night out of prison.
Second I silenced all group notification. I deleted Spotify. I deleted Youtube. I deleted Netflix. I do still listen to music and watch some OTT. But only when I want; on laptop. Not on mobile lying in my bed.
Next in line was google. I turned off all history tracking everywhere. I do not want personalised ad services. I need not daily weather forecast notifications. And I do not need the automatic google and safari news feed. I removed all apps from my home screen and I take out all apps by search. I don’t want the to see apps as I open iPhone.
This is how my pages look like as I open my phone : )
It is I who will decide when I want to kill my time; not the algorithms. Hehehehehe.. : ))
Next in line was my decision to buy a new watch. After having tried Apple I-pad, pencil, Mac, Air pods, iPhone etc; I was upbeat to buy a ‘smart’ apple watch. As I went to a shop in Ludhiana and put that watch on my wrist for trial, a sudden feeling gripped me. I realised that having ‘smart’ watch would mean more notifications, constant screen time and constant health messages that I am not doing enough for fitness. It would also mean 24*7 music for me (an addict I am) even on the go.
I thought that it would make me look ‘cool’ to others but would make me more and more tech slave. My personal experience with AirPods was like this. When I got them, I found that I am constantly listening to music and podcast even when I am cycling, walking in garden or even brushing my teeth! Hah! After a month, I found that my mind is constantly in hangover of songs and the associated feelings with them. To my surprise, I found that no new thought entered my mind in those few months. I lost my AirPods while I went on inspection to Beas Railway Station. Haha. Financial loss but liberty gain.
So, to be back to the watch story; I finally did not buy any ‘smart’ watch. I do not want a watch to constantly monitor my heart beat or locate where I walk and how much I walk. I do not want to imprison myself into what images others make of myself. Moreover that ‘smart’ watch reminds me of one factory made, standard life devoid of any rebellion. So, I instead decided to buy this:
Browser was also sucking my time. I found that whenever I open the google app to search something, it used to give me interesting feed and I used to be caught in some click baits. Here is how my browser looks like now:
So, this is my little heroic journey of war on tech induced slavery. I know we hear arguments like: tech is a clay and you make out things of it or you need better self control or that tech is all panacea. well! May be! But that does not work for me.
I know different people have different demands on life and different perspectives. For many above may not work out. But my point is that we need to be on guard to our liberty. We cannot take our self control for granted. We are not that strong at times to fight against systemic bias in tech products to enslave us by manipulating our baser instincts.
My only point is that tech is for your benefit. Use it only where it would add value. Don’t imprison your choices and liberty in the expectations of others. All those judgemental bodies will die one day including you. This is the most liberating thought.
So, do not let algorithms be your Boss! You are a beautiful human being and wise enough to make your choices. You need not biased AI induced algorithms to be your leader. Use them like your additional arm. Do not let them be your nervous system.
Do not let Smart Phone make you Smartly Stupid and make you an Artificially Intelligent Human.
That’s It! Pls share your opinion and comments. I would be lovely to hear different views.
Happy Liberty day!
Vishnu Goyal says
That’s a commendable and inspiring journey, Tarun. I am sure, many people who struggles to breakthrough their long-long hours on tech will find it helpful and take initiative for themself.
I agree with you that “different people have different demands on life and different perspectives,” and I believe different things impact all of us in different ways.
If when one finds that some things are impacting them negatively, they must do all they can to get rid of those things. Glad you did that and motivating others to do the same.
Keep Doing Good Stuff
Tarun Goyal says
Thank You, Vishnu for your warm and inspiring comment!
Mahendra Kumar Gupta says
An excellent narrative Tarun. It is pleasure to read your articles. Keep on writing. I think you can write motivational books. Just an idea! All the best.
Tarun Goyal says
Thank You Sir for these encouraging words. I surely will. : )