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Generation Loneliness


The scriptures say we are currently in the stage of Kalyuga (the age of downfall).

Some of us were told we belong to Gen X or Gen Y.

But we all currently belong to Generation L. 

Generation Loneliness. 

What each generation stands for can only be judged by history. Scientists have recently discovered water on Mars.Though I seriously doubt the existence of Martians or aliens or any form of extra terrestrial life, it may help to take a leap of faith for the sake of argument. If any form of extra terrestrial life took a good look at us, they would probably find a demographic that is seemingly busy but uninterested with what is happening around them. One fictional entity will think of us as zombies, another fictional entity. 

About a year back, I used to go to the bank to get my passbook updated, draw money from my savings account and put it into my PPF account. The person at the counter remembered everyone who was a customer of the bank and made polite inquiries into their lives. On some days, the wait to deposit money got frustrating. I had sub-consciously refrained from getting an internet banking ID as I secretly looked forward to my visits to the bank and the polite conversation with the elderly man behind the counter, Mr. Sriramulu. Then a polite manager looked at me and decided I looked too young and busy to be standing in a queue and advised me to get an internet banking account which I did promptly. While it solved a lot of my problems, it somehow feels incomplete without hearing the voice of Mr.Sriramulu asking about my well-being.

If you walk into a restaurant you will find people people whose eyes are as glazed as the donuts they are eating. Real conversations are the fillers in between parallel whatsapp and messenger conversations. The moment a round of conversation passes, the smart phones come out and they are almost excavated into to find some source of distraction. The more senior you go in an organisation, the more important it is for you to look busy playing angry birds and checking your facebook and twitter.

The newspapers and media seem to suggest that loneliness is a very big epidemic in our lives. Teenagers complain about it, urban youth fight it and the elderly fear it.

Nothing can replace sights, smells and face-to-face conversations. These days, everything is home delivered; yoga classes, food, books, washing machines among others.

The next generation may forget the joys of browsing in a bookstore and getting lost for hours. Of placing an order and going back week after week to check if the book has arrived. If one site doesn't have the book in stock, another site will. they will never know the unbridled joy of getting to know the owner of a bookshop like Mr. Shanbagh of the now closed Premier book shop and running into the different people who shared the same love for books.

The next generation may forget what the word waiting even means.

They may forget the art of making conversations with strangers. Sit in a bus or a darshini or a chai shop or a bar and overhear someone speaking about a topic that piques your interest and then adding to it and coming out of feeling richer than when you entered.

Instead we'll have a generation of trollers who destroy conversation and discussion instead of adding to it, coming to their own conclusions without going where the action is.

Generation loneliness may have the world at their fingertips but a world bereft of conversation, interaction, empathy and patience.

Houston, sorry Mars, we have a problem.

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