While sitting on the breakfast table with his family, Rajiv constantly kept updating his Facebook news feed on his cell phone. With each bite, he scrolled down the screen. He cherished this little virtual corner of his, away from his family members who sat right across the table, observing his drift into cyber oblivion.Some of the posts made him smile, others transported him into deep thoughts. Throughout this period, he paid no attention to what was going on around him or what his parents were talking about.
This had become a routine for him.
He just didn’t feel like listening to what his family had to say. He already had so much going on in his virtual life that taking out time for their real life issues seemed uninteresting and, frankly, a waste of time. He could use the same time to update multiple statuses and follow his favourite band; a more constructive use of his time.
Once done with breakfast, he stepped out of the house and was on his way. As always, he forgot to say bye to his family. They had accepted the fact that their son is now a Facebook junkie, but they had no idea how to rehabilitate his addiction.
He was driving to office when his mobile phone beeped. It was a notification alert. He wanted to see what it was about, so he started rummaging through his pocket for it and finally found it. He would just take a quick glance. In the few seconds of his attention being diverted to his phone, he did not notice the huge truck coming his way.
The horns of the truck started blaring angrily. Yet, Rajiv, so deeply engrossed in his reading the notification, completely tuned out the desperate attempts of the horn indicating trouble. Before he could look back up, the truck rammed straight into his car, a loud explosion erupted from the collision and then there was complete darkness. The last thing he remembered seeing was the tiny red signal on a blue backdrop tab on his cell phone.
The loud voice of some man jerked him back to reality barking about some heart that needed to be stabilised while someone else turned a machine on right beside his head. The high pitch sound like a beeper gone flat filtered through his brain. ‘Someone turn that thing off’, he thought annoyed. During all the commotion around him he realised that he had never responded to his friend.
‘Where is my phone?’ he thought, dazed. ‘I have to respond to my friend.’A second later, he felt an enormous ache burst through in his body and the sheer pain caused him to faint. A few minutes later, he opened his eyes to see what was going on around him, but the light above his head was too strong.
He started understanding where he was.
This wasn’t home.
This wasn’t university.
And then the pain subsided…
Images of him sitting with his family, watching a movie, flashed by his eyes. His father was giving him driving tips, while he played Ludo with his siblings. He saw himself arguing with his brother, eating ice cream, pouring his heart out to his mother, going for outings and having tons of fun. The feel of rain on his skin and the brightening up his life again…
This time when he opened his eyes he saw his family. They had their back towards him and were gathered around someone else’s bed. He was so relieved to see them. He hadn’t realised how much he missed them until just now. All he wanted to do was throw his arms around them and feel the security of his family wrap itself around him.
But his mother didn’t seem happy at all. She was sobbing uncontrollably and his father seemed to have gone numb.
He moved towards them to nudge them and let them know that everything was going to be okay. But they didn’t budge. They stood there, ignoring his presence completely, crying.
‘Why are they crying?’ he thought, ‘I am right here!’He started to panic and decided to call out to his mother instead.
‘GUYS! I AM RIGHT HERE!’ he yelled out, but they didn’t seem to hear him.
‘Ma will be able to hear me’, he thought, ‘Ma will be able to tell me that everything is alright.’But Ma couldn’t hear him. Ma couldn’t feel him or see him or hold him or hug him.
He was no longer a part of their world anymore. He was in another world altogether, all alone.
“Why aren’t you listening to me Ma? Why are you ignoring me? I understand that it was my mistake. I shouldn’t have stopped spending time with you. Please forgive me! Just give me another chance so that I can set things right! I understand now that nothing can substitute the love and support of a family.”But it was a vain attempt.
A strong illumination descended upon him and he was told by a strong voice that his time in this world had now ended.
He cried and pleaded for more time.
Just another minute, a few seconds only; he wanted to tell his family that he loved them with all his heart. He wanted to let them know that he was sorry and that he missed them already.
But it was too late now.
The most needed message
If we observe our lives today, we have become busier with our virtual lives than those we live in reality. We have forgotten that life is not just about social networking – there is more to it.
Though you have thousands of virtual friends on Facebook, when your time of need arrives, only your beloved ones turn up. So why do you prioritise these virtual relations over your real ones?
I feel that we are being trapped in a cage of social networks, with fewer of us communicating with each other face-to-face. With each passing day, the bars around the cage are steadily closing in with every new social media forum online.
For many of us, it is impossible to visualise life without social networking. We should keep in mind that there were people who lived without this technology before us and they managed to have friends, live an amazing life and live through their experiences in reality.
We need to live, not just exist.
We need to make sure that when our time comes to an end, we do not regret the way we have spent it so far.
We must understand that we have very limited time with our beloved ones.
Today, have dinner with your family, meet your friends, show gratitude and love your life.
And the next time you log onto Facebook, make sure it is after you have spent time with your family.