I remember the joy of using a portable phone and whisking it into a room of the house where (at least I thought) my family couldn’t hear me. I am a very private person, and so relished the idea of private conversations with my friends, especially during the awkward years. So, the idea of reading my postcards aloud to my family and sharing them as a collective conversation, at first, comes off as something I would not be a fan of. Yet, some of my dearest memories are those shared around a campfire with my extended family, sharing stories from their childhood. So, the sadness that Santosh Desai communicates when he describes how the technological innovation of the mobile phone has also brought social repercussions by fragmenting the social communication infrastructure in India. The interesting part is that even though the mobile phone increases the ability of people to communicate exponentially and on the go, Indians are now communicating less. The cell phone individualizes communication, and as Desai seems to be implying, makes it perhaps less meaningless. By making communication a community activity, sharing an individual’s communication with the group thereby increases the meaning that communication has. In addition, it creates meaning in the sharing with the family and friends, thereby creating an experience of sharing, bringing the family that much closer together. By not sharing, therefore, the individual seems to be moving apart from the family.
This downfall of technological innovation, of the cell phone allowing more communication but inadvertently making communication less meaningful, shows how innovation comes with responsibility. Now that individuals can communicate with everyone much more often than before the cell phone, they should. But they are not. When family members live far away from each other, they do not make regular phone calls to each other, but they miss the times they had with the whole family. Perhaps we enjoy communication in groups, not individual to individual. Besides relating secrets, the rise of (personal, not business) conference calls, group Skype dates, chat rooms shows how despite innovations that allow privatized communication, people crave group communication.