What is the first thing that you see when you wake up? The alarm screen of your phone blinking intensely to break you out of deep slumber, just in time to face the next screen. You quickly swipe the alarm off (maybe after a few ‘snoozes’) and move into the home screen. You try to avoid looking at mail notifications from work and scroll through that day’s barrage of useless information and dopamine boosters. And then, ever so slowly, you decide to move on to the slightly bigger screen of your laptop, your annadaanaprabhu (The one who provides food).
You eyes have not adjusted to daylight just yet so the brighter laptop screen makes you squint as you type in your password. You get it wrong again as the damn thing is reset every month or so and you’ve lost track. And then you finally log in and click on two of your virtual bosses: the mail client and the messaging client. They greet you with responses from multiple geographies, most of what will end up on your ‘to-do’ list for the day.
And as you meander through the jungle that is your inbox to prioritise work, you hear the familiar chime of the calendar notification reminding you to attend the daily status meeting. Colleagues, who’ve turned into mere audio cues post lockdown, speak during their turns to list what they’ve done and what they’ll do, with a voice that is so neutral that they pass by your ears like background noise. Your attention span is not what it used to be; as notifications about keep popping up the things you may like to watch or read ( Talk about caring :/), you slowly swipe across the screen with the thumb searching for the next ‘HIT’ of good content that can sustain you for a little while longer. You unmute yourself to give your update and say “Thank you!” and prepare to take the plunge for the day – meetings, emails, action items for the day – all the while, your eyes shifting from your laptop screen to your phone screen.
If you’re one of the fortunate ones who is truly working from ‘home’, food comes to your desk and you’re able to sneak your lunch into meetings; you’ve become an expert in using the mute button and have bites in silence, replicating the entropy of the universe which silently consumes energy (Too much?). You continue your tryst with the presentations and firefighting, and your sense of time returns only when your inbox starts piling up again with mails from the other side of the globe, waking up to the grind. You’d sent a barrage of work for them to trundle through while they were asleep and now, they’re replying with equal vengeance. You realise that you’ll have to burn the midnight oil as tasks start piling up. But you keep yourself going with dopamine bursts from cute dog videos online (Wait, but when did I start watching Dog videos?!)
All this while, your parents and grandparents have been watching you from across the house. They see you slog through the day, confused as to what they should feel – proud of the grind their child is able to pull off or worried because their child doesn’t seem to stop working. But they find their escape in television screens with daily soaps, over the top news anchors, and the IPL. The sound of these reminds you that it is time to start winding down.
A few hours later, you are in your bed, glued to your personal screen, tapping away for the next dopamine kick while you wait for sleep to bless you.