Friday, 7 August 2015

The death of distance!

I've never received a post card, let alone a letter, from anyone! I did receive a few telegrams a couple of years ago, but they were for an official confirmation. The last time I talked to a friend over the land line was over a decade ago, and the last time I personally walked over to a post box was when I spotted some free space around it to park my vehicle. Communication, over my lifetime at least, has exploded and everyone just ballyhoos and rhapsodizes about it. Everyone says more information is available and more and more people are connected. And the last time I was telling someone how good the feeling of opening a letter from someone would be, I was instantly mocked for being outdated. So I tried looking at things from a different perspective. The last time I tried being critical of the barrage of new modes through which we can now communicate and on their efficacy and related anomalies. This time around though, I'm going to talk about distance!


Distance is necessarily the absence of communication. While distance has a physical dimension, given how evolved human beings are to believe that a video conference can replace an actual meeting, distance has assumed more of a psychic sense. If you can communicate with someone, you're not far away. If you can't, you are. I still remember that when about a decade ago when I with a herd of my school friends visited the hilly terrains on the upside of Uttarakhand, there was a patch of 6 days in the middle when we couldn't even as much as get the sight of a phone. A scion carried his mobile but those were the initial days of mobile telephony in India, and that territory was inaccessible and too tough to put a tower on anyhow. So when we finally saw a phone after those 6 days, we literally thudded towards it and barged at its entry, fighting to get in first or to get ahead in the queue so that we could finally talk to our families. And that was the first time in my life that I sounded mawkish on phone, and failed to maintain that stoic demeanor that otherwise made me look cool! It all went for a toss that day. There was an implosion of emotion for the same people I talked to everyday, were finally talking to me after 6 days. It was a heavenly feeling. And what took me to the realization on how important family is? It was distance! 

Distance is magical and has an aura of its own! For a couple which just split up, distance could bring immense realization. The death of distance by the abundance of communication would instead give them more ways of lashing out at each other. For a solider who is forced to stay away from family for years, distance spurs magic and strengthens his resolute to do something more profound for his nation, because he starts seeing the whole country as his family! For a creative genius, distance is what finally gives him the time to introspect on the vagaries of life and work his sorcery. And for a wage worker living in a distant town, distance is what makes him realize the worth of his wife and children back home, and he commits himself further to his job. 

Distance evokes the most powerful of all emotions. When someone gets bereaved, distance befalls permanently and it shatters their souls. Such is the power of this distance that it can make one both congealed or pernicious, depending on how one deals with it! Hence it's really important that we practice the art of maintaining distances every single day so that on that one fine day when distance is all that we're lift with because mankind was too slow to invent a mode to kill this distance already, you'd still be in the right stead to cope with it! Because when you can't cope with distance after being so used to expunging distance every single day, you can get cranky. 

Most of the evolution technology witnessed has got something or the other to do with vanquishing distances. Right from the trains that marked the beginning of industrial revolution to the penetration of smartphones in villages. It's all a concerted effort by mankind to break barriers to communication, all of which inadvertently kills the distance.

While progress of communication is the cornerstone of evolution, distance is what inspired us to look forward to evolve at the first place. And while the prime motive is to bring distances to a bare minimum to achieve the dream of connecting everyone at the end, we must not forget that all human beings are already connected through nature, which is the most emphatic of all the communication networks on the planet. And distance is a really important factor in that connection. Distance in fact prohibits some contact that should never be made, and also gives necessary time for people to think what to speak before a contact is finally made. Distance might preclude communication but it also makes communication more unique, complete and effective. In fact, who wouldn't prefer a greeting card received 2 days after their birthday with a very heartfelt wish written in sublime ornate handwriting, than getting a wish on Facebook at 2 in the morning that said a plain "Happy B'day" with a misfit smiley at the end?