‘App’arently Addictive

It’s official. The old saying praising the virtues of the red juicy orb that fell on poor Newton’s head (and added to the woes of high school kids who probably would’ve thought of getting a voodoo doll for the man and sticking pins into it if he weren’t already dead) has now become old news. I’m sure you could easily guess what saying I’m referring to. 

Want a hint?

Does an apple and a doctor ring any bells? 

Well, the old, obsolete saying has been replaced with a newer, better and more relevant 21st century-smartphone-using-next-gen version- 2.0 which goes like this: “An app a day keeps boredom away.”

They are everywhere you see; not only almost every XYZ company has one of them but now even the governments are throwing it onto citizens’ heads like confetti or like the rose water sprinkled to guests at weddings. I can bet my ugly feet that they are launching even faster than India’s MOM and costing a dime if anything, much like the celebrated Mars mission. 

 I was quite ‘app’rehensive when I first read about the number of apps on Google Play Store recently placed at 2.8 million in March 2017 but my doubt went out the window as soon as I looked at my own phone’s home screen and counted the downloaded apps. 

Sure enough, these days you can’t even step out of your house without checking your face in the Candy camera. Apps have officially taken over our lives and have become a sine qua non for a vast number of chores: from paying electricity bills to making complaints to civic authorities (MoUD app) or knowing the status of a government project or gaining access to NCERT books to something as basic as grocery shopping, now there’s hardly a thing for which there ain’t no app.

You need apps for :

 VoIP calls (to those NRI relatives for whose high-tariff calls you had to wait long, before Viber happened along with Imo, Whatsapp,  Tango)

texting (look no further than Whatsapp which is Oxygen to our lungs), 

social networking (Would discussing other Social network count as cheating on dear old Facebook?), 

gaming (I knew it wasn’t young or stupid to fall for Pikachu who’s returned with a bang…Go Pokémon!), 

photography (the app category that had 878 million downloads in first quarter of 2017 only and that offers amazing creativity at its best), 

editing ( the word once deeply associated with modifying text now has too many connotations to count – editing videos, songs, movies, Word files, pictures, etc )

reading (the elation of carrying a thousand books on the go, truly makes owning a smartphone worthwhile), 

quizzing (getting challenged by opponents on trivia you just love to know, reaching levels while unlocking uber cool titles and riding a winning streak never gets too old),

shopping (Getting stuff delivered right to your doorstep without having to ‘Flip’ your ‘Kart’ in a shopping mall seems an ideal way to window shop without actually going to a window or a shop),

  entertainment (Netflix India’s ads spring to mind. Do check them out.),

hotel bookings & travel ( Snatching away the livelihood and commissions of travel agents; now the answer to Hotel? – Talk to an agent, has changed to Hotel? Trivago)

Cashless payments (One word: Demonetisation),

Food (those days when your starving stomach and lazy ass refuse to get up either to cook or get dressed to dine out–you have Zomato so Order away!).

For all of the above and a thousand other reasons, YOU NEED AN APP. Period.

More than they use the loo, people these days use their phones (sometimes the two things overlap. I know, gross isn’t it?). With their some useful apps, some recreational ones and others with negative marginal utility, meaning that with one additional app that’s downloaded, it is not only the phone’s memory that’s being cached and cluttered, it’s our time and intelligence that’s being wastefully occupied too. 

There is no denying the fact that App stores are this generation’s Walmart. With almost every need of a person being provided by the three step mantra of search-select-install, there isn’t much reason for them to look for anything, anyone or anywhere else. But that line of thinking is exactly the downside of too much App dependence. It’s like waking up to the sound of a fancy alarm app that reminds you to be up and running, which by the way gives you the luxury to snooze it and doze off again. For me, when I was still a school going kid, my alarm clock was my mother who used to shake my comatose self so hard, I had no choice but to jerk awake, no chance of a snooze, no sir.

Another downside to app addiction is the Opportunity Cost of the time you spend religiously on it. A friend of mine* Ben Tennyson** doesn’t do Sundays at Church with half as much fervour as he posts a picture on Instagram. Daily. Except for when he’s on a vacation. Then it’s hourly. So before Instagram became the focus of his existence, what did he do with his time?  I did the mistake of asking him this very question once. I got answered by two expressions and one sarcasm-dripping retort:                           

  •  Feline narrowing of his eyes
  • Scornful twist of his selfie-ready mouth
  • “What was I doing? Nothing, just twiddling my thumbs, waiting for Kevin and Mike to be struck by lightning”

In my opinion, sometimes it’s better to twiddle your thumbs than strain your neck for that perfectly artificial moment on a #blissful #bestever vacation that is captured just for the sake of those 500 followers–people who don’t mean a damn thing to you.

                          * * * * * * * 
*Let me be completely honest, most of the times ‘a friend of mine’ will be absolutely a fictional character that’d be used to make a point . But some times when I’ll be actually talking about a friend of mine, names will be changed to protect the victim’s identity.

**Names of friends are completely, honestly fictional but have some relation to persons living or dead. I just get my kicks out of them 😉

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