Real vs Reel: Dilemma of the Modern World
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 22 Jun 2020
In earlier days most of what we could see around us was real. We had real parents, brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts and grandparents, some of whom loved us and some who scolded us if we were naughty.
Today we are flooded with the virtual or what is also referred to as the reel world. There used to be the cinema and films with lilting songs and acrobatic scenes. Now we have TV, the social media, the Instagram and several other forms of the virtual world that flood us and leave us flummoxed. Let us not forget that the WhatsApp is flooded with all sorts of messages — some useful and some hateful or obscene.
Again, to return to the real world, we could see several animals — horses, cows, dogs, cats around us. To sit and move slowly in a horse driven carriage called tonga was a pleasurable experience. There were some other animals such as lions or wolves which usually were found in jungles or forests. In Asian and African countries there were the elephants with their large tusks that were prized for their ivory. There were also various types and sizes of fish that swam in rivers, seas or oceans. I should not forget to mention smaller creatures — lizards, frogs, insects and beautiful, multi coloured butterflies.
Then there were astronomical entities — the sun, the moon, several planets and countless number of stars in the sky that fascinated people either scientists or laypersons. The moon appeared to change its shape from a full moon to a tiny semicircular sickle. On rare occasions one could observe lunar or solar eclipses. A rainbow that occurred sometimes was a beautiful, unforgettable sight. Today one can see a rainbow usually only in a film or TV. The Sun, moon and stars are still there but often due to clouded or smoky skies, we can’t see the moon or stars at night.
I should not forget to write about the fascinatingly beautiful flowers — from the red rose to the yellow daffodils and flowers of various shapes and colours and fragrance. As Shakespeare had written in Romeo and Juliet ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-90), painted some alluring paintings of daffodils.
Of course the rivers or seas or oceans, if one lived near them had their own attraction both visually and feelingly — standing in the beach waters was such a pleasant sensation. Similarly, mountains, hills streams flowing down their slopes cast a magical feeling on the onlookers.
Today, very few people get a chance to live next to a beach. For example, in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) the surroundings of beaches have been taken over by big hotels or fabulously rich people. Of course we can see photographs of some film celebrities on TV or newspapers walking tenderly on the beach waters.
These entities astronomical, geographical, botanical still exist in nature. The problem is that in the complex order we live in, it becomes difficult to see them in person. We are occupied in travelling long distances to our place of work and become tired when we return home. So we see the photos of flowers on our TV sets or in newspapers or films. We used to know the local names of several varieties of flowers — today we hardly see them in their actual form or can inhale its fragrance. There are of course some exceptions — people who have flower pots and plant some herbs and flowers such as a tulsi plant or a rose.
When we were young — about half a century back, if we were upset by something or had a fight with a neighbour and wanted to cry, we would come home and our grand mother would hug us and console us. Today if a similar situation arose, to whom could we go for consolation? Our grandparents don’t live with us and our parents our away for work. So we usually feel sorrowful and feel miserable. Perhaps if we have a pet dog we cuddle it and feel better. I am not suggesting that this always happens — I am only highlighting the differences that have occurred.
Alternatively, if we were living near a river, we could go there and look happily at the clear waters. Would we get the same pleasure today since the rivers are dirty, filled with all sorts of garbage?
If we were happy or had done well on our exams, we proudly displayed the report card to our parents. We were rewarded by a hug and something sweet to eat — a jalebi or gulabjamun. Today the reward could be going to a Mall and eating a pastry and strawberry ice cream. Both are sweet, the difference is that going to the Mall could be fifty times more expensive. After all we must understand the high rental that the shopkeeper in the Mall has to pay.
There are thousands of other examples that can be written about. I will end by talking about a close relative’s death. We had to go personally and express our grief and offer condolences to the departed soul. Going personally in today’s situation is often not possible so we send our condolences and write RIP.
What difficulties we face in the virtual world of today! One avenue for seeking peace and harmony is by going to a religious centre where a guru is giving a satsang about Lord Ram or Krishna. I must also confess that one Sunday morning I went to a nearby church and felt a sense of peace and goodwill.
Hare Krishna; You always help us, bless us!
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 22 Jun 2020.
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