The Idea 3G advertisement sums up the way technology has gripped the Indian middle class. People to people contact is a thing of the past and the coming together of phone, mobile, internet and wireless technology is seen as the power of the finger. So much that technology is seen as the answer to problems that plague society in India. But 2G or 3G, can this be true?
Many people in India know 2G because of the Raja spectrum scam and the 1.76 lakh crore apparently being lost in the haphazard sale of the spectrum space during the 2G spectrum space allotment to companies. On the other hand the 3G sale brought in huge amounts of money to the government. As 4G waits to come in, companies are trying their best to sell 3G in big volumes to make up the amount they have invested in this technology. As part of this, 3G is being made into the common human’s core accessory without which nothing is possible. The integration of internet into our lives is fast and furious.
Idea mobile has become famous for its advertisements which are seen to evoke serious thoughts of nature conservation and public good. The latest in a series of advertisements is the “Ab biwi se 3G” (Now, from wife to 3G) advertisement doing the rounds in a variety of TV channels. The plot involves Abhishek Bachchan (a Bollywood actor and son of Amitabh Bachchan) and a friend, watching city life and wondering why we have such a large population in India. Their conclusion is that when electricity fails, couples get into the act of child making! As a solution to this, the actor offers Idea 3G. Now whenever electricity fails, the wife and husband in each house can still watch TV through the 3G enabled mobile which gives strong video streaming for uninterrupted watching of cricket matches and serials, chatting with parents and playing games. This in his opinion will solve the problem of population explosion in India. It is shown with the image of a dusty closed down vasectomy clinic.
As in many previous Idea ads this one is also naïve in its presentation of facts in a different way. The other day I heard two groups debating whether technology could do away with physical classrooms and buildings and make online learning stronger. The same argument of how technology would save resources came up. But the resources needed to keep technology up and going is relegated to the background. The same takes place in the Idea ad which seems to suggest that when electricity fails, technology will save the day. But 3G obviously does not run on solar or wind power. This means that more electricity is drained to keep the show running!
The Idea ad can be debated in the church while we rue the fact of lesser people to people contact, lesser numbers in church, lack of interest in public programmes and such. It also leads us to think how technology is changing and will change us further in the future. The culture of fun and frolic will replace serious discussions which should take place in church and society. TV viewing which was a family ritual in itself will be replaced by individual bed viewing which will challenge our ability to think and act in a responsible and sane manner. We will place technology between relationships and facebook each other instead of sitting and talking over the table. Technology and companies that make use of it will be seen as the new saviour in our lives and in the future of our country. Guess this is where the church can help by formulating a policy on technology and the church and how people should use technology in their lives.