A Ludd-ite and Dahl-ite econ mom..

Its been tough coming to terms with this one, really. Its a serious problem. I have always thought there could be a way around it, but increasingly, I realize that I can’t work around this one. Oh, no no no..so let’s face it…I …am..luddite.

Now that I have confessed (its a lot easier talking about things once you come out clean,eh?), let me tell you that I have always been one. Long long before Raghuram Rajan made it fashionable to be one (remember the most celebrated brawl in financial economics, when Larry Summers, in a fit of overconfidence in the financial innovations of which he was part, accused good ole governor to be one). Well, that was a turning point of sorts for me…because I had suddenly come across the one word that possibly fit my personality rather snugly, so nicely that I immediately thought that this is the right word for me.

Oh no no…don’t get me wrong. I was not keen on joining the Rajan club (though wouldn’t mind that, he he he), I am not talking about being the luddite economist..I am talking about being a total, total, total…luddite. One who doesn’t like technology, one who doesn’t take to it…I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am against it. But I can do without it. Seriously. And rather happily. And my happiness, as my friends and family (and my rather geeky and totally non-luddite lil one) tell me, is my biggest problem. I am the only living relic of the 18th century, is rather their accusation.

So, in a fit of dare-devilry (I am subjected to these on and off) about a month ago, I declared to everybody that my New Year’s Resolution is to become ..uhh…tech savvy.

I regretted my words the moment I said them. Just the delight in everybody’s eyes told me that I had said something that would now be held against me every time I objected to stuff like TVs and Whatsapp and …just computers. Till date, my voice had that ring of conviction when I berated my nephews, nieces, and my son too for spending too much time on “gadgets.” “Read”, I would admonish and get looks of total disbelief and pity in varied degrees from the younger ones. The younger they are, from 22 down to about 16, the pity and disbelief grows. Between 16 down to 14, they are so busy whatsapping (or whatever it is that they actually do) that they don’t really react. Its rather like the anomalous expansion of water. Whilst the 22 year olds just kind of shrug their shoulders and get back to whatsapping, the 16 year olds actually snort and make audible dissent recorded and generally do stuff to make you feel old. The twelve year olds (that’s the greenhorn teenage category my son belongs to) try to control and not attack you physically. So well, now you can understand how much delight my unwary statement must have created in my family.

“You need like a new phone like immediately”, drawled my niece who like cannot like say like a single word like without like. Its the new thing with these people. They either whatsapp, or they like do the “like” talk. “Its all about internet presence maasi” informed another. “You are pathetically low profile on the net….in fact, its no profile”, he guffawed, unable to control the geek attack. “Facebook account, twitter, linkedin profile, a gravatar presence,…oh god, there’s too much to do in just a month,” said a third… and my mind was thrown back to the time I had heard the word “makeover” for the first time. “Wardrobe, cosmetics, hair, shoes, accent, poise” were the pre-whatsapp makeover words. Now, its about the e-poise. Oh damn, why did I say this, I was groaning internally, when, suddenly, my son piped up “Maa, lets get an iPhone.” Apparently the geek quotient varies directly to the price of the phone. I totally put my foot down on this one…I am NOT doing away with my phone. Its really old and dog-eared and looks quite ancient and I …love it. I am not doing away with myphone to get an iphone. Firstly, pant your way through the price. Worry about it (the phone AND the price too…price skimming, remember?) falling all the time. A scratch on the iphone means a scratch on your ego. And then, what in the world am I going to do with it anyway? Talk a bit, sms a bit (yeah, I still do it) and whatsapp a bit (see, I am not that bad), take photos and set an alarm for the morning. I’ll be damned if I am paying some crazy price for this.

There’s ummm…one more problem. I am not only a Ludd-ite…I am also a Dahl-ite…as in Roald Dahl? Charlie and the Chocolate factory, the giant peach and all of that…you may be wondering where Roald Dahl came in suddenly…you see, Roald Dahl used to be cursing television ALL the time. So do I…oh, I really really don’t like TV. And I just can’t stay away from books. In fact I am more Dahlite than luddite.

However, now, even some of the books have a reference to the TV patterns; after all, books automatically reflect the society and the tastes of the people. So, it was with a lot of interest that I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins last week. Its gripping and despite the fact that its actually for a teenage audience, I found myself unable to keep it down. It probes a reality show wherein the contestants are left in an open controlled (by the game-makers) forest arena with only one task- stay alive. Even as I was reading it, I was forcefully reminded of the Lord of the Flies by William Golding, in which some children get stranded on an island and come to terms with their own deep rooted emotions of power hunger and control. Of course, in Golding’s book, the tussle is shown between the power hungry and the fair-minded, between dictatorship and democracy, between the two opposite sides of the human mind. The prize for winning? Life. In Hunger Games, the protagonist has to not only outfox the others in her race to stay alive, but she has to be into a mindgame with the audience which is watching her 24*7 and sponsors, who may send her survival gifts if she looks good enough while murdering the others.

Hmmm…for a person who cannot take reality TV at all (once my bhabhi forced me to watch that perverted Big Boss thing and I nearly threw up inside 12 minutes and took the next 12 days to recover…how can anyone watch it) and hardly any other type of TV too, I really appreciated this book. Its nice. So, I think I’ll change my new year’s resolution. I’ll become tech-savvy in couple of years. For now, let me just read some more.



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