Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Idiots, or Mutant Intellectuals.?

I still remember, in the eighties my tryst with that marvel called Television. Those years, which even today in several blogs across the Internet, several writers recollect with nostalgia about those wonderful programs on Doordarshan, even today we have had discussions with friends and at the workplace where we've discussed Hum Log and Buniyaad and even laughed at programs like Vayalum Vazhvum ( a daily series on agriculture and farming, in Tamil.), those simple detective serials and cultural programs like Surabhi in the 90`s, they were all the staple diet of the Indian audience. The present youth and middle aged people are all people who fondly recollect, those programs and talk about those golden days. But past is past and we move on with our lives today, those experiences just memories, but yet strong imprints on our conscience and mind. So what about today`s children.?

Since the nineties, television viewing has increased, with the onslaught of Cable Television. Suddenly there were lots of channels all over, and strange dish antennas springing up everywhere on rooftops of houses. There were suddenly a huge number of channels to choose from. From movies,to cartoons, to fashion, to sports, you name it, you've got it. Then came M.TV, F. TV and more, and then to top it all, the news channels, ( those fashionable channels, with brilliant graphics, with picture perfect anchors delivering news 24 x 7 about the most sickening incidents around the world). In computer terminology, we suddenly have had an information explosion in our society, and not just that cultural shock too. Where once parental discretion was used, while Chitrahaar was being telecast, today there is a state of confusion as to which button to press on the remote.

When one form of medium, grows exponentially suddenly in it`s reach and coverage, then others have to take giant steps to keep up. In my childhood, when television was simply switched on, only for that one particular program, books were the alternate pastime. Then I remember devouring children`s magazines like Chandamama and Gokulam. So it was with some excitement that I bought an edition of Gokulam recently while traveling home, simply to relive those memories. I must say I was taken aback at the stories and information. It actually had details about inflation, Ram Setu Issue, the incident of Priyanka Gandhi meeting Nalini and what not.? The maturity and the seriousness of the topics, the letters to the editor, where different children have written in, have all undergone a drastic upgrade. It is not merely the students who get the privilege of education, but due to the reach of media nowadays even the unprivileged are more learned in their own space.

Recently at a social gathering, I somehow ended up with the responsibility of taking care of this child from the fourth standard. Amidst all the festivities, and people running here and there, I decided to take up the responsibility of entertaining him. I pumped in all my story telling skills and told him the story of two monkeys and a cat. After I had finished, I looked at his face and knew instantly that he was simply bored to death.

I started, therefore to tell a new story about the lonely princess in a castle, when I was suddenly interrupted.

"What`s the score ?", he queried.
"What score.?"

"IPL ?!". I must have seemed an alien to him at that instant, i`m sure. I was just beginning to explain, how I am not a big fan of watching cricket, when I was stopped midway again.

"Okay, who do you think will win? Delhi Daredevils or Mumbai Indians ?".

Before any more major embarrassment, "Mumbai Indians!", I managed to reply. And that is all I spoke, as I waited silently for the next one minute, listening to his discourse, flooded with statistics and news reports, and injuries, as he delivered the final judgment, the final nail, in my coffin of ignorance. "Mumbai Indians will not win."

It is with awe and admiration, that I see today`s children, their awareness of current affairs, their command over language, often English. I know for sure that I am not jealous, but there is a slight concern, whether all this smartness, this knowledge, is at the cost of their innocence, at the cost of their sensitivity. While there are things children of today should be aware of, like for example child abuse, It is also better they not know certain things. In some spheres at least it`s always better that children remain children.

With all the kind of exposure, there is, at times over exposure, would they grow up to become lazy storehouses of information, while emotionally becoming idiots, or will they become prematurely matured mutant intellectuals? Because after all, as time advances these changes will affect both body and mind. It is a well-known medical fact that young girls and boys are nowadays known to turn mature, in both body and mind at the young ages of twelve itself. Probably these are signs, or probably my thoughts and fears are totally unwarranted, unjustified and unnecessary. Perhaps, even downright ridiculous. I sincerely hope they are.

Pic Courtesy : www.missionindia.org

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is new world, New Children. If we started telling our stories to them they will pity us

Regards
Sajith
Free ecards

MAN IN PAINTING said...

Hai srijith,
I just loved your blog.have to come back and read the whole.Me too remember the dooddarsan days.The serial called "buniyaad",children's programme giant robot....
Thanx.

You write very well.
me too blog.
do pay a visit.
wishes...

Anonymous said...

SriJ,

Whatz the score? Boy, these days parents want their children to be on tp of the world all the time and these kids realy do not enjoy their innocent days.

Its the media, marketing grps, society and family itself. We become aliens coz we r no more the engine and just a track where the trains come n goes to say hi n bye.

-Pria

Keshi said...

I agree with u 100% Srijith! This is a great post.


**would they grow up to become lazy storehouses of information, while emotionally becoming idiots,

So true.


These days everything is abt COMPETITION! Sadly.

Keshi.

Prash said...

Well, I was in India in May and I was surprised to see how much Indians were pre-occupied with the IPL. A family even came to the restaurant (the one and only) of BBY International Airport and asked the waiter a table where they could sit next to TV so that they can watch the TV...everywhere i went, all the restaurants and hotels, you have a big screen displaying cricket match..including bars and clubs !

Same time, you had a cyclone hit in Myanmar, a terrible earthquake in Sichuan region of China. The Indian Press had it on the 1st page for two days and then back to IPL on the first page.

I really felt bad. I understood when foreign people (including other asians from south east asia) when they laughed at surprise and at amusement.

I had a feeling that people in India are living in their own "bubble". Only a very few, think globally and the rest is bothered about Bollywood gossiping and IPL.

Ofcourse, I didn't know about the poor people in remote villages and slums in big cities. Probably, they are hooked up to cricket matches too.

On the other hand, I witnessed many families buying cartoon books and dvds in local languages with local stories (which didn't exist in 80's and 90's). I was so glad to buy couple of DVD's in malayalam with local histories and arab stories for my nephew and niece.

usha said...

prematurely mature.. well said!
i guess i respect them more for the fact..
i feel the sooner and better equipped they are with facing the real world, the better for them!

Srijith Unni said...

@Sajith : and that`s what I dont want to happen, they should not lose their innocence, which is needed to appreciate those old stories and the morals they provide. Please share your url, sajith.

@Man in painting: I have visited your blog. Haven`t fully understood the concept of the "Man in painting", though. Yes truly golden, they were, those serials, even those NFDC movies they once screened, from different regional languages.

@Pria : // ..we r no more the engine and just a track where the trains come n goes...// Brilliantly said, pria. Only you can think so metaphorically. :) Parents should take better care of their children, by trying to imbibe in them cultural and moral values and cultivate a good conscience for them. Knowledge they will gather by themself, i`m sure.

@Keshi : I hope it does not turn out to be true, keshi. Competition is one thing, Sportsmanship is another. It is the balance that they should not lose.

@Prash : Yes prash, everyone is hooked to cricket. Not that i have any problem with that. The problem is with the media, because they act without social responsibility, creating a mountain out of a anthill, whenever it is related to cricket or bollywood. They manipulate public emotions in ways which serious responsible journalists would never do. The common man in india, will surely sympathize and pray for anyone affected be it in China/Myanmar. Sadly the foreign nations, see india, through the indian media.

@Usha : Seriously usha, I agree with you in more ways than one. I also respect them. However, I`m sure you and I will look back and say that Childhood was the best part of our lives. I`m worried that today`s children may not say that tomorrow. Aren't we unknowingly/knowingly, denying them the best part of their lifetime.?

mathew said...

well written..you have analysed it perfectly..noticed the same thing with the current generation kids..probably half the blame goes to parents who dont allow children to remain as kids when they are kids...they rush up to make children into adults asap...

chitra said...

Hi,

Being a mother of 12 year old son, I share the same concerns too.

At times, I sound naive in front of him. But at the sme time, I also do feel that they wd become emotional idiots as you had quoted. I had written about it under http://ithechitra.blogspot.com/2008/04/exam-pressure.html.

Let's just wait and watch !!

Srijith Unni said...

@Mathew : Yes true. Parents must be double prepared to see that the new age does not have a negative influence on their children. If you ask me, once in a while at least going somewhere out of the reach of media, closer to the past, villages etc. would help to an extent. I don't know why i`ve been so fixated on this part, since i went home last time. :)

@Chitra: Read your words chitra, they ring truer than ever..Yes like you said let`s do our bit, wait and watch.

Jac said...

Beautifully narrated with reasons unni

Srijith Unni said...

@Jac: Thanks a lot, Jac.

Deepak said...

I agree with you in this. More so in some of your comments.
In my opinion, all things about preparing them for the real world is crap. I now recall reading an Orkut testimonial written for one of my friends by her mother. I'll quote:
There are two lasting bequests we can give our children - one is roots, the other is wings
I think the so called "preparing" helps them get neither of these. Maturity is good, but it kills the emotional being in you.

Very thoughtfully written post. Made me ponder over it for quite some time. (That doesn't happen often)