Sense(less!) Technology

Its technology that has come to our rescue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology is helping us in tiding over the various limitations imposed by the pandemic. With the aid of technology, we have managed to keep our education system somewhat on track. Online shopping is in vogue in a big way. Perhaps, that is why it is said that adversities not only pose challenges but also present novel opportunities.

Difficult, But, New Experience: Parents On Home-Schooling During Lockdown
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However, if you look at the flip side, in a lighter vein, there may no longer be rainy day holidays for school children as school will continue to operate in virtual space. Isn’t a rainy-day holiday one of the most enviable aspects of school life? Just imagine what our next generation will miss out on!

But are online platforms the panacea for all ills? Fortunately, not! The fact that technology cannot cater to all our senses is perhaps the biggest constraint as well as the extenuating feature. Humans have five basic senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste, something we learn right from kindergarten.

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The virtual world, however, can only invigorate two of our senses – that of sight and hearing. There is nothing in it for the other three senses. Visualize a cookery show on YouTube. The show can only help you learn how to make a dish by seeing and hearing the chef but you will never be able to enjoy the aroma of the dish nor will your taste buds be able to savour it; and worst of all you cannot touch and feel the dish with your hands. So, the nose, the skin and the taste buds are left completely deprived of any gratification in this online culinary experience. And, perhaps, it is to delight these senses that you may actually, impulsively, end up making the dish right after the show is over.

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Take another example – that of online shopping. Do you think you would want to shift to online shopping lock, stock and barrel and not step out of the house for any purchases after the pandemic ends? The answer would be in the negative because online shopping has its boundaries. For instance, given a choice, you would want to not just see a dress before you buy it but would also wish to feel its texture and try it on.

Bugging the salesman, of course, is the vicarious pleasure that you would derive in the entire process of hands-on shopping. Even if Amazon or Flipkart or any other e-commerce site gives you a detailed description of any product along with several photographs shot from different angles, you still feel the shopping experience is not complete.

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That brings me to the most important emotion associated with the sense of touch. Touch is thought to be the first sense that humans develop. Isn’t this what we are missing the most because of the pandemic? A tight hug, an encouraging pat on the back, a peck on the cheek, a gentle squeeze – all of which we had taken for granted – has become elusive now.

The entire gamut of emojis in Whats App cannot substitute the warmth and love that the sense of touch provides. The pandemic therefore has taught us a great lesson of life. It has exposed the limitations of technology and the virtual world even as the same technology is helping us cope with these testing times. Man needs all the five senses to be catered to, to lead a fulfilling and well-balanced life. But till that happens, it is over to technology. 

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