My Slave, My Master

In our feudal society there is no dearth of examples for Master Slave relationships. We see people opening car doors for their masters, holding umbrellas for the chief, constables doing menial jobs for inspectors and their wives and maids made to work all day without holidays for paltry sums of money. We even have the time tested slave, a housewife, who does everything for her husband and kids, but does not even receive the respect she deserves.

Now, Imagine for a moment, that suddenly the roles get swapped- the master becomes the slave and the slave becomes the master. How would it be if the CEO opens the doors for the peon, or god forbid, if your mother washes dishes while your maid eats at the dining table, complaining about your mother. Funny isn’t it. “Can’t even happen in dreams”, you say. But it is happening everyday. We have a slave amidst us, whose job was to obey our orders and do what we say, but who, in turn, is commanding us around all day, at his will.

Who is this talented slave. Our mobile phone, of course! The device that was meant to give us more time by reducing our work has turned a traitor and is consuming all our time. It was meant to happen perhaps, given that most smart phones are smarter than their dumb masters. What is wrong in entertaining ourselves with some whatsapp, facebook, instagram or <Fill your favorite app here>. Aren’t we just changing with time and being cool. Well, yes, but it is a lot more than that. With the new ‘Screen Time’ analysis of iPhones and Android phones, we see baffling numbers – several hours of screen time per day. What more, we spend those hours mostly staring at the screen not even aware that we are using them, sub-consciously.

Even when we try to ignore this slave, it calls us with its mesmerizing notifications. We are bound to pick the phone immediately or end up with some nervous breakdown. The anxiety that we feel when we don’t have the phone nearby can only be better explained by regular users of drugs. Eventually, we have made a deal with the devil and are connected full time. In this strange world that we have built for ourselves, we can’t have a moment’s rest without the gadgets. It doesn’t matter where we are or who we are with, be it in the restroom, our hall with family, having food at the dining table, even with friends out in dinner, in a cinema hall, traveling somewhere, playing with kids. Aren’t we diluting the essense of some of these experiences by allowing our slave, sorry our master, to command us around.

May be we are like King Theoden who has let his servant Grima rule over him and his kingdom (Sorry non LOTR-fans). May be, like him, we also need a Gandalf, who can break the curse and save us from our own slave.