Alone – Together

Alone Together

The thought of this title has been playing on my mind for a really long time.  I see the above state played, replayed and lived almost every single day in almost every urban household. I am still trying to frame and articulate it aptly with equanimity and fairness, about what I see and what I feel about this life. We, “the urban and developed”, tech savvy generation have come to lead today; ‘Alone Together’.

 It all started when a couple of weeks back, we were enjoying a face time call with our cousin. He started with the lord of the house (my husband), exchanged a few pleasantries, and asked for me. I was in the same room, right by his side, distractedly overhearing every word, yet busy on my phone, texting someone else, on a totally different topic. So, the phone came into my hands and he was a little surprised that I was right by my husband’s side, yet absorbed in my miserable gadget. Then came our daughter’s turn, and to make matters worse, and drive the wedge deeper into my already bleeding heart; there she was; right next to me, on her I pad, watching some idiotic show! Trust our dear cousin to make note of this too and he remarked ‘Oh! you are the perfect modern family, alone together.’

That’s that, the final nail in the coffin! I have often complained to my better half about his being glued to the phone. The gadget barely the size of a palm is  his heart, the phone being his life partner, best buddy and I can go on…but that caustic observation from our cousin brought to light the simple truth we all are avoiding today. We all are uncomfortable alone and worse; we are unknowingly more uncomfortable together.

Technology has robbed us of the pivotal, key ingredient of life and living; comfort in togetherness. We send texts with ease, because the message is devoid of physical proximity. The true essence of the meaning that we wish to convey is at the mercy of the befuddled receiver. We post pictures on Face book of every possible occasion, and fearlessly share our treasured moments with strangers. The immediate family is the last to know, or may get to know from ‘following’ the family on Face Book. Speaking to our extended family and relatives have become a weekend ritual.  We are more connected on what’s app group chats and when must speak over the phone, we procrastinate, tentatively rehearse our lines, and hope that by some fluke chance we can postpone it to the next weekend.

On the other hand, we prolifically text friends, seek new friends on the net, bare our hearts, confess to some faceless friend of the moment, here today, gone tomorrow. The importance of family, togetherness, being able to speak to a person, face to face, these have become outdated and obsolete.  With family, we are walking on thin ice; with strangers, we are on solid ground. With family, we are afraid, snappy, irritable and judgmental; with strangers we are bold, pleasant, eager to please and understanding.

Secrets are reserved to be kept from family members; but world can know all about us, and we care two hoots. The family should be kept in the dark; that’s more important. The world does not judge us, and even if it does, we don’t go back to live with the world, do we? We return to the family; thus, the need to hide from the family and be in their good books is essential. It sounds mighty hypocritical, but isn’t this a fact? Maybe that’s why we are fidgety around the known, and at ease with unknown.

Long gone are the days when we used to have a family lunch, or a simple get together for no reason at all. The fact of being together and looking forward to enjoying each other’s company was the prime intention. Nowadays we do have our lunches together, but we all have our friend in our pocket, tucked closest to the bosom, and we seek umbrage almost immediately after the perfunctory greetings are out of the way. Of course, we all sit together and watch a movie, but we all also have the phone stitched to our palm or an I pad on mute playing some other random, personal choice video. That’s the togetherness we have today.

We make weekly calls to my mother in law who stays all by herself. However, the funny part is that her loneliness is a constant worry for my husband. She is  in fact cheerful, happy,and coping very well with her way of life. She is  perpetually busy with her huge circle of  friends and many social engagements. Yet, he worries for her. Realistically speaking, I feel she is more engaged and together inspite of living so far away. We are right next to each other, yet we are lonelier. Listening to the cousin and my husband’s worrying rant, the profundity of that phrase ‘alone together’ hit me.

‘The less you have, the more they are worth.’- This was a toast raised for friends, on some Television show, I forget the name. It has become defunct today, won’t you agree? With the advent of Facebook and other social sites, the world is replete with stranger friends. We have no dearth of friends, so the real worth of a friend remains a mystery. Secondly, the world is our friend, so the more you have the more the confusion as to who is worthier! ‘The more you have, the less they are worth’; bring us back to the title; we remain alone, together.

It is best of both worlds really, we are together physically. We live under one roof, we seldom argue, because we never talk to each other, about each other.  We talk about the world or still better, we don’t have to talk at all! That sense of commitment and belonging is missing. We nurse our pain and misunderstanding and heal ourselves through help from strangers. Together, we wind up embittered, vitriolic and want to be alone. And alone, we are unhappy maybe, but the world worries about us, and that pseudo concern makes us happy? I am not sure, this is my ruminative rambling. We seem to be happier alone together, and we want to leave it that way.