By Nivedita Karki, Columnist
Published March 30, 2014
“Connecting … ” said the screen of my iPhone. A couple of seconds later, my younger brother’s mischievous, smiling face popped on my screen. In one hand he held up the phone, and in the other he was holding up a shiny, new black football with a Manchester United logo on it. “I did OK on my midterms, so Mummy and Papa finally bought this for me!” “That’s awesome!” I said.
“Jaldi aao (Come here fast), we need to start the Pooja Vedant!” “Your sister is going to get late for class!” I heard my parents say from the other room.
I straightened up in my chair, pushing back my hair so my Kurti shirt was visible, and made sure the new fairy lights I had bought for my room were noticeable on the phone screen. As my brother ran across the living room to the Pooja room in our house, I could see that my mom had decorated the house with flowers beautifully. “Nivi beta, ready?” “Nope!” I tried to kid.
And so we prayed and sang Bhajan songs — my brother and I trying our best to mouth the right words — then my parents showed me how they had decorated the house. “Your mom outdid herself this time!” said Papa, showing me the flower petals that formed patterns across the living room floor. From our balcony, I could see lights lighting up the night everywhere, and hear fireworks going off every other second, making me cringe. New Delhi looked like a beautiful, but noisy, bride — as it always did on Diwali. I looked up at the clock in my room — 9:30 am — my class started in half an hour. “By the way, the new update for iOS 7 is available,” my mom said. I laughed and nodded, said my goodbyes, and started packing my bag.
Diwali — the Hindu festival of lights — was, literally, a surreal experience in 2013. And so will the next few ones to come. Though this happened last November, you can see that I remember the day extremely well. Partly because it made me realize how far out of my comfort zone I have been trying to live, but mostly because that was the day I truly appreciated how technology has come to affect our lives.
Every other Facebook/Intel/Microsoft/Apple commercial I had ever seen — y’know the cheesy, overtly emotional kind showing how families, friends and people in general had been united through the company’s work — all made sense to me that day. I don’t mean to sound like someone in love finally understanding the meaning behind all sentimental, sappy songs — but despite my problem against the dominance of boys in tech, I had come to truly appreciate and love my choice of major that day.
As I finished getting ready for that morning, I remember taking a picture of myself by those fairy lights I bought, and sending it as a Snapchat to all my friends with the caption “Happy Diwali — the festival of lights!” What followed was a hilarious series of replies. From my friends in India, I got Snaps teasing me about all the sweets and desserts I would be missing, and that it sucked for me that I had to go to class.
Meanwhile, some my friends who weren’t from India started sending me Snaps of them next to the most random sources of light — the chandeliers in the Law Library, the ceiling lights in the UGLi, and even the sun — and some just drew lights next to their faces.
Other than realizing the fact that I only picked people whose brains stopped developing after middle school to be my friends (just kidding, I know they were just being silly) no matter where I went, I also realized how I absolutely agreed with my mom on one thing: “What would we do without technology?” I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that I was 7,500 miles away from home celebrating one of my favorite festivals in a strangely amusing way. It made me miss my family a little less, and appreciate people a little more.
The point of this extremely personal anecdote is, or at least I hope it’s been, to create a little positivity around our dependence on technology. In between deactivating accounts on social media outlets during exams, and blaming the Internet and other fun tech creations for the decline in our attention span (I’ve been trying not to play 2048 while writing this article), we have forgotten to appreciate the good things that have come out of this dependency. Our generation, especially, takes technology for granted. We know that technology is going to continue to be a huge influence on our lives, so we must understand that we need to learn to really value how it has augmented our ability to interact. Focusing on how it can help us create valuable experiences can really help us make it an asset for ourselves.
Nivedita Karki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.