The other day, while rummaging through a disused storage space, I came across several dusty black plastic boxes. It took me a moment to realize that these were tapes for a VCR – a VCR.
I had not seen a VCR, let alone watched anything recorded on one, for many years, having long surrendered our VCR to an obliging raddiwala.
And the reason we did that was because advances in technology had rendered the VCR as extinct as the dodo in the late 1990s and replaced it with the DVD – or Digital Versatile Disc – player.
I first read about VCRs in a Time magazine article in 1970, and at the time marveled at the concept of bringing an entire movie theater into your home via a machine smaller than a briefcase into which you fit a box the size of a book and watch whatever movie or other recording you wanted to see.
I checked the issue’s deadline to make sure it wasn’t April 1 and the article wasn’t a parody of All Saints Day. But no, it wasn’t April Fool’s Day and the article wasn’t a parody. Thanks to the VCR, you can bring the magic of cinema into your home. Could anything be better than that?
And the answer was yes, in the avatar of DVDs, which in turn have been rendered obsolete by screening devices like smart TVs and phones where you can watch movies, news and whatever is streamed in continuous 24×7. The unstoppable avalanche of technological progress has transformed yesterday’s miraculous inventions into today’s museum pieces and has completely changed the world around us and the way we communicate with it and with each other.
But while the technical means of communication have far exceeded the limits of the imagination of old, the content of what is communicated, whether in film, news or social media, has all too often remained the same, or even regressed.
Too much of what is currently trending, what we see, hear and read on our digital devices, deals with the brutal and continued oppression of caste, creed and gender, with rabid intolerance, violence and despair.
The oldest museum pieces, tragically used today, are the atavistic mechanisms of hate, rage and fear, outdated relics of the primitive human mind.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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