Stuck without a computer the other day I found myself in the awkward position of having to write longhand, something almost strange in that it was three full pages and I got cramps halfway through. Not just that but my handwriting, having been defeated into a poor second place by keyboard dexterity was rusty and shaky and wobbly and lopsided. It hit me with a certain force that I hadnt done any writing in months beyond scribbles on post it yellow stickers. It also struck me that there is a generation behind me that not only risks never even developing to any acceptable stage its ability to grasp a pen and write, but also the stamina to think for itself. We use borrowed words. From the thesaurus, from other peoples thoughts, through the internet, even having to buy cards to express basic sentiments. Sad, isnt it, that even love has to underscored by browsing through the cards section of a bookshop because we havent the energy to think original thought. This we call advanced communication. Again, thanks to television and the grim choke it has on millions, we have lost the gentle art of conversation. We dont care to listen, to share, to commune. TV wins hands down. In urban enclaves, for example, people work out their evenings around the schedule of programmes and woe betide any insensitive person who arrives mid-programme on a social visit. He will be told to ssshhhhh and sit until the programme is over. In fact, there is tangible resentment towards you, the intruder. So empty is their mind, honestly, that they actually follow the unfolding of serials and the fortunes of the characters in them. Oh yes, I think that is awesome and scary. I am no psychologist but I can safely submit that this generation is also becoming a nation of watchers with fewer people actually becoming doers. You think I jest. Look around you. Millions of people doing nothing physical at all, yet paying huge sums of money to watch a minuscule percentage perform for them. 300 people were active in the IPL as they will be in the World Cup and one billion will eat and drink and watch them. This is already happening, this vicarious satisfaction, getting tired sitting and watching other people labouring away. Even as TV has stunted physical growth it has made a devils pact with the computer and the Net, and played complete havoc with the mind. Perhaps, the saddest death is that of reading. Books. Good solids books...once your friend, guide and refuge. Now, I hear people speak with pride of how they have never read a book, who has the time? You have time to watch mindless garbage spew at you but you havent got the time to read and you can justify this aberration with a smile. We cant write as well, we cant think as well, we cant produce enough action, we have fallen so far behind and yet we think of ourselves as the generation with the edge. Make some of your own observations. How difficult it is to write a letter to a friend, how often you begin and cannot write more than five banal lines. So much easier to use the soulless if effective Email. We dont engage in conversation because we no longer listen, we socialise to score points and collect scalps, networking to make contacts. We seek the refuge of the TV because we are now addicts and cant do without this fix. You dont believe me. Conduct an experiment. Unplug the TV for seven days. No one watches. House rule. First day, you will feel smug. On Day Two, you will go into withdrawal. By Day Three, you will be fighting with each other. By Day Four, you dont want to know. Dont believe it...try it. Walk up to the cord and pull. It isnt tough, just a gentle tug will do it. Call me, if you get this far. Khaleej Times