I had the opportunity to attend three different public gatherings during the recent times.
The first one was a religious event with a huge participation of around 5000 attendees in an open auditorium. At the end of the full day long veda chanting session, the main priest, a septuagenarian with a fragile built walked towards the dais to address the gathering. As he stepped on, the crowd went in to a pin drop silence mode without even a single word requesting, either from the organizer or the speaker.
He talked in detail about the importance of learning during the olden days under the gurukula style. Probably aware of the influence of modern technology among children, he made it a point to emphasize on the aspects that were stressed in the earlier days, in particular, to create a keen attentive attitude when someone is speaking. The attendees of the gathering included elderly people as well as young graduates from a university. He did not use any audio visual tools to aid his talk.
“I term this union as the union of the past”.
The second forum was a gathering to address a group of 25 university students visiting the UAE from an American University. Boys and girls who are in the final year of the post graduate course were on a tour to understand business and economical models prevailing here. The speaker was a veteran administrator with several years of experience in all aspects of the oil and gas industry. He was an acknowledged toastmaster too.
During his speech and presentation the speaker was humorous and to the point and the students keenly followed him. End of the session, they had a question answer session and each one of them had meticulously jotted down pointers to clarify their individual doubts. In here, I found the audience using IPads to note down and also record using mobile phones whenever needed.
During the entire period, the audience kept themselves engaged in listening as well as interacting between themselves using modern technology.
“I term this union as the present”.
Now comes the third group. It was group of children who were invited to attend a weekend training session modeled to create their interest for higher studies. Parents were also included in it. The programme was conducted by a young engineer turned academician. It was a mixed crowd and after a few minutes I realized the audience and the speaker were in entirely different platforms. I could see the audience showing as if listening but in their own world chatting on social media or playing games!. What was funny to me was the fact that whenever the speaker had queries thrown to the audience, in particular children, I found them quick on their fingers and phones to find answers through google!
“I term this as the future”.
Time has changed. It is no longer possible to disengage one from the modern amenities that are easily available.
A walk in any of the modern malls, you will find families with children tagging along playing on the latest IPads or IPhones. No longer children require to wait till the next day to go to school to find answers to solve their probing mind! In fact, if we as adults have queries, they are faster than us to find solutions for each of them.
The observation does not end there. The pattern noticed in the second and third group highlighted above are very common these days. Very often we get to see people reading emails, texting, typing messages or even playing on their mobiles while attending meetings or conferences. The scenario may be witnessed and not rare when some people are seated on official chairs of large gatherings.
The need to remain connected is that intense that when one get used to it, becomes hugely indispensable to ignore!.
In the process many times the finer nuances of the talk or discussion happening is missed.
I was witness to one such case the other day. It was an event organized to speak about Mahatma Gandhi on Martyr’s Day. A series of speakers were lined up including Emirati and Indian. The main speakers were Emiratis and they had done their homework well and talked with enthusiasm what inspired them towards Gandhi ji. Then came the turn of the speakers from India, who were supposed to be more knowledgeable than the foreign speakers! One by one each one of them talked quoting texts from here and there. None could evoke a true Gandhian spirit and patriotism. It was the chance of the last speaker and I thought at least he will not disappoint the audience. He started off well. Listening to him carefully, I noticed, he had jotted down points from each of the speakers. However, very soon I realized he was mixing up the thoughts and authors. By the end, it was a cocktail of erroneous quotes. I didn’t have to think further when I noticed him leaving the hall with three phones and an IPAD!. Of course, he was a busy person. In his eagerness, he did note down parts from here and there in his Ipad, however, in his compulsion to attend to chores on his phones, he messed up on actualities happening on the stage.
I am sure, the example above are not one off that you see in your day to day life. We get several instances when people, attending important meeting or public functions are totally pre-occupied with their mobiles doing several other things. In the process they fail in their objective of being there at that moment.
A keen attitude to listen is very essential and indeed it has come to a reality that we need to train ourselves to cut off and remain in the present!.