I just turned down a friend request by my driver and then as I log on to Twitter, I find that it says, “Sheela Sharma is following you”! My maid refrained from sending me an FB friend request but is now part of my Twitterati.
I think it’s amazing how keyed in this new generation is to technology, and now with Jio offices having lines that serpentine all the way around the block, I envision Mukesh Ambani virtually patting my maid on her back, saying, “Jaa Sheela! Jee le apni Zindagii!” After all, everyone (regardless of socioeconomic background) has the right to Jio, and let Jio!*
In the afternoon, as I pass my house’s “hang-out” area for the domestic help, I see all of them lying down, cut off from their daily stresses of differentiating between julienning and dicing vegetables just the right way to keep the matriarch of the house smiling. Ear phones connected to their Androids, each one has a separate Bhojpuri flick streaming, but all with Ravi Kishan gyrating his birthing hips sexily on screen.
I wonder if I may have slipped up and given them the wi-fi password at some point (which is strictly forbidden after hearing horror stories of people’s staff watching unmentionable stuff while being logged onto their wi-fi). They couldn’t possibly be watching movies on a measly data pack (even in pre-Jio days).
I know how my hand quivers on holidays, as I hand BabyA YouTube (my invisible straight jacket for a very naughty baby), and she watches hours of Horrid Henry (her personal guru)! I shiver because I know my hubby is going to be annoyed with the constant updation of pricey booster packs for data extension. So how could these guys be nonchalantly streaming movies every day?
I often find them very distracted during work times also, armed with technology; constantly having to finish their candy crush games before attending to a “preschooler spilt milk” emergency, but I can’t say that any of us are any different, so it’s hard to blame them. When I’m such a phone/social media addict, how can I fault my staff for feeling the overwhelming urge to volunteer feedback to a friend’s new hairdo on WhatsApp rather than attending to my daughter’s call of hunger.
As this next gen of domestic help has the intelligence to keep up with modern gadgetry, they are able to make my life easier due to their savviness but technology plays the role of a double edged sword. From being able to rest my lazy, mommy bum for a moment longer on the couch because my driver can go and choose the seat covers for our new car (and WhatsApp me pictures as he picks) to my maid alleviating my separation anxiety by sending me videos of my little ninja at a birthday party, dancing to “Chittiyan Kalaiyan Ve”, while meaningfully mouthing “Mainu Shopping Kara De!” into the lens (preschooler wants don’t stop).
The marvels of this SmartGen are as many as the banes of their Smart Phones. From being able to read English, and subsequently, being able to find the one med I forgot to carry (kept amidst so many other tablets in my drawer) when I left home, to understanding every word of the family gossip my mom and I share as we sit together in the car. I celebrate every time I can just WhatsApp my maid the picture (screenshot of Uber details) of the driver, but flinch when I see her status as constantly ‘online’ on WhatsApp as she rides back home with my child in the Uber.
So now, as I browse through my FB newsfeed, it implores me to send a friend request to my 25 year old dhobi by constantly badgering me, “Do you know (him)?” But just the way a CEO doesn’t want his employees to see 3 am snapshots of him doing tequila shots off of a Russian waitress’ navel, I don’t want to include my employees in my circle of friends either. I’m happy they are connected to the larger world through social media and the World Wide Web, but I prefer to be a stingy spider, and keep my world web exclusive!
*Live and Let Live