Rumours at the speed of light
By Mohan Krishnamurthy, Posted on » Sunday, May 21, 2006
I STILL remember the day when we got our first television set. It was a different experience. A 12-inch black and white television, with a huge towering antenna, we often use to rotate to get clear signals. One odd programme for children and the rest some stuff which we couldn't understand or follow those days. Parents didn't stop us from watching it.
On the contrary they found it a tool to keep us home. Yes, they were tired of seeing us playing on the streets, coming home with bruises and cuts. Our clothes needed a change after every street game adventure as we used to come home soaked in sweat. Radio never needed as much attention as television demanded. You can switch on the radio and keep doing your work. But television was a crowd puller. A fascination-turned-pain before we realised. It got into our drawing room and slowly started controlling our thoughts and minds.
Unknown people started entering our home to watch programmes that were aired only between 6pm and 10pm. People used to gate-crash to watch poll results, movies or cricket scores. My mother enjoyed the recognition she got among the group as a first television owner. After the initial hospitality, my mother realised that it was going to be a Herculean task to extend the hospitality almost on a daily basis. But it was fine. We started having more unknown guests through the television itself. People were airing their views on dramas, songs, movies and debates.
With the Internet, paging, mobile and thousands of television channels, we, the public face a challenge. What to believe and what not to. What to follow and what not to. While the Internet and information technology innovation holds millions of pages of information, often we find facts are distorted, misrepresented or the truth totally blacked-out. For anything there are hundreds of views. Even scientific facts are denied, questioned or rejected altogether. Often the website reflects the owners' views and sometimes very aggressive efforts to force them on to readers. Rumours now travel at the speed of light with mobile voice, SMS and MMS. More misuse of technology rather than right use of it.
The younger generation spends time on books at schools, televisions and computers at home, hence giving birth to a new species - the couch potato. Reading books, watching television and sitting on computers for hours together negate any scope of physical exercises, handicraft, arts and literature.
Information availability is effortless nowadays, at the "click of a mouse-button" as they say. No need to discuss with elders and learned men, no peer discussion, no debate and no research by reading books from the library. In fact, if you seek any information from your friends, please do not be surprised to receive a standard answer - "Search on the Internet". But what is the accuracy of such easily available information. Is the right amount of information with accuracy reaching our children?
Creativity and innovation that existed among previous generations are scarcely found in the present one. We should not forget the growth in information technology, communications, space; aviation and automation are the fruits of man's creativity. The desire to discover, the fire to invent and curiosity to share the success have made us to see the 21st century of the world.
We must not let this creative fuel run out, particularly from our children. Schools, colleges and universities need to develop curricula that includes physical exercise, outdoor games, drawing, painting, carpentry, pottery and other handicraft courses. Parents need to spend more time with their children and help them balance between television, computers and other activities.
Yes, the older generation has a challenging task to pass on not only its technology and inventions, but also the phenomenon behind these inventions - creative thinking