Like any one else, the Internet for me has been an easier way to obtain information, work, socialize or spend my leisure time, if I ever have any. It was a shortcut to so many things. Then all of a sudden I am once again thrown into digital Dark Age.
This happened when I was assigned a project in an industrial concern near Pattoki. The project site where I am working these days is located only 1.5 kilometers from Karachi-Peshawar National Highway in the rural hinterland of Punjab. It is an industrial hub and the PTCL landlines are there. Pattoki town that has a claim to an international fame due to flower nurseries already can boast of the Internet service. But what surprised me was that it is not possible to connect to the Internet and go online just about 20 kilometers outside the town.
But this is not about exposing the official claim of providing Internet services in the country or usability of existing infrastructure nor is this about the IT needs of the industry. It is about me. Like young generation, I did not grow up with the Internet. Acquiring necessary skills and hooking online when Internet necessitated changes in job specifications and descriptions as well as in societal norms was a major shift in my life. Past few years, I have been working and depending heavily on the Internet. Checking my e-mails many times a day and firing off relies, visiting a few Web sites and blogs, simultaneously, I might add, sneaking a look on others’ blogs — and perusing some comments on my own blogs ‘as they happen’ was part of my work. I did this all while toggling between other offline things I had to do. Some would call this multitasking and my friends would probably call it procrastination.
Emails, whatever the substance, were a necessary part of life for me, a big boast to my ego. I felt encouraged, read, wanted. But the emails only keep coming as long as you keep responding. Now when I am unable to write more regularly and reply promptly, the fan emails is already decreasing. Only a few members of the old guard have written and asked, “What happened.” Up front, life without the usual barrage of pampering emails seems a little empty.
It is the case with e-friends. Those who are using Gmail know that all emails can be kept intact in the huge Inbox without any need to delete to keep under limit. When I look at the emails stacked one above the other in my big Gmail inbox, it gives me an idea of the pattern I have been following unknowingly. E-friends are made frequently but they fade away equally frequently.
There is an equilibrium point between the virtual and real life though it is getting difficult to point out where that point is. Life offline is difficult for those who have placed every thing online. But life can be enriching for those who can take control and can adjust to any situation as it comes on or offline.