Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reflections V- Are we creating digital memories at the cost of experiencing them?

Few years back I attended a wedding ceremony and found it amusing that the various props and well rehearsed performances had made it more of a video shoot than the actual event of meeting and blessing the bride and groom. Since then, the blitzkrieg of high performance mobile cameras and incessant activity on social networking sites has converted life into a role play at virtual Broadway than a real experience felt and stored in the by lanes of sensitive human brain.Similar sentiment was expressed by another writer in news article recently that we are emphasizing on creating digital memories at the cost of experiencing the event and forming an emotional memory in our brain.
But the shock of my life happened recently when I had to spend several hours at my son's school because he was unable to adjust in his new class where I saw that all school activities were being shot or recorded on camera by teachers while children were performing them. On the second day, when I saw it being repeated in my son's class, it irked my sensibilities as to what are we teaching our young ones. Philosophically, life is a play and we are all actors, but to be in front of camera while important lessons of life are being learnt was stretching it a bit too far. Here I must emphasize that the shock had not struck me while I was contemplating about the assistant teacher who, instead of being involved with the kids was recording and setting the light and positioning of class room, it was not even at the thought that sensitive and easily moulded minds of kids were observing and learning from teacher's behavior that will eventually promote the idea of posing for the moment rather than enjoying or learning from the moment and projecting a better picture rather than being a better person, it actually hit me after my interaction with the center supervisor.
When I vocalized my concern to the center supervisor, she immediately went into a defensive mode and responded that that was what the parents expected that their children's activity should be chronicled on face book. My attempt at reasoning with her that the effective student teacher ratio went down if one teacher was involved in recording the activities met with a stubborn effort to emphasize that it was not happening because children were anyway learning. Further discussions again met at a rigid wall that they were expected by the management to put up pictures so that school's activities could be highlighted.
"And what about the children?"
"Aren't they learning their alphabets?"
I mean really, is that all they come to school for, to learn alphabets? How about lessons of life, how to interact with people, build friendships and nurture a base for positive life philosophies like living in the moment and learning from experiences? School is a place where little children learn by watching adult behavior, the educationist therefore holds the biggest responsibility, perhaps even before a parent because at times even parents need guidance regarding how they should handle a child.
The selfie culture being debated nowadays has generated enough concern among mental health practitioners that there is a move to consider and list the deleterious effect of such behavior on human psyche. The excessive use of electronic gadgets is already  considered on the spectrum of addiction and obsession and defined under electronic screen syndrome. The ill effects of overt emphasis on social networking sites to build virtual social world at the cost of real human interaction is being discussed on regular basis in media and in intellectual circuits. Behavioral addictions are being explored and researched due to the disruptive effect of increase of internet and gaming on routine life activities and withdrawal symptoms seen in their absence. Despite all of this, school authorities are unable to understand the importance of a concern of how exposing the growing child to 24x7 digital recording. Moreover, school is emphasizing more on marketing strategies and what satisfies the parent as a client instead of addressing their responsibility of nurturing the next generation.
Yes, I am concerned, and I am afraid as to the impact of this lack of concern at the educationist's level and at society's level at large on the personality of future generation. Are we creating individuals who will spend life for display or would experience life while living and evolving with every moment spent.