Ink on your fingers is better than a mutating virus strain in your systems.
Corona. I am sure that you hate the word as much as I do. Just imagine, we didn’t even know of its existence just a few months back and today it has successfully forced us indoors, hitting our normal lives for a six, robbing us of the freedom that we so cherish and pushing us dangerously close to the precipice. Socially, economically and psychologically we are, quite literally, at the end of the tether. A big Moo to that!
What we are feeling is a strange mix of anger, dread and helplessness. Anger and dread that can still be reasoned, but the helplessness? Isn’t that criminal? The lack of knowledge about the adversary which is striking stealthily, without us having even an iota of knowledge, or inkling (no pun intended) about its agenda? I mean, this is not the fourteenth century that the plague will run amok and we, with all our knowledge and resources, will sit in prayer with folded hands? Yet, isn’t it exactly what we are doing, locking ourselves in to avoid the glance of the Basilisk even as it goes about untamed, mutating faster than we can figure out its traits? Imagine. Running scared from a virus, decades after having put a man on the moon and after almost a hundred years after penicillin was discovered? Yuck!
Mind you, its not the physical threat that the virus poses that is scary – what is making the chill run up the collective spine of the world is the lack of knowledge about it. It is like “fighting with an unknown adversary with a blindfold on” as Maestro Prof K C Janardhan, ace Calligrapher pointed out – “you don’t even know when or from where the blows will come, as you remain at its mercy, a God blimy sitting duck”!
Exactly the way we are all sitting ducks to cyber-attacks. What if you are subjected to an identity theft tomorrow? What if a rogue state unleashes an attack on our electricity grids? Our banking system? Our hospitals? Our traffic systems? Our communication networks? What if the undersea internet cables are compromised?
The point that I am trying to make is that we cannot afford to placate ourselves with yesterday’s technologies (or knowledge bases) to shield our vital assets from tomorrows threats. Take the example of any fort – one located at an elevation with a vantage view, perhaps even with a moat around it, to make it impregnable. The infantries and cavalries of yore were not strong enough to breach the walls – but does it stand a chance against the air force? Forget about the drones and the missiles and the sheer firepower of the day.
It’s the same with this Corona thingie – in an era when knowledge is power, it is forcing mankind to question its collective knowledge, even wisdom. For, sad as it may be, we do not have enough knowledge about it to form an adequate response, to take the battle to its camp. And no, we don’t know nothing about a gazillion other such threats that may raise their ugly heads tomorrow – either in the physical or in the digital realm.
Guess what? Most of us don’t even have a basic anti-virus (the FREE kind that can be downloaded even by the tech-dead) on our mobile phones. Imagine, we pay little fortunes for those shiny little toys, store all our personal details in them, yet, are not willing to spend even a trifle for our own protection. Hacking into them is literally kid’s play, and when that happens, it’s a virus, the “real” kind, that we cannot shoo away by “social distancing”. Imagine going off-grid “socially”. Huh!
Now imagine some loony sending in a drone that hacks, logs into the system and “ka-boom”, deletes every shred of information? Your bank and tax details? Your company’s records? Your birth and qualification certificates? The EMI and title records? Your anniversary reminders? Your Cardiologist’s contact numbers? Phew!
So, what now “Trojans”? Pick up a pen for goodness sake. Pick up a fountain pen and write them darn important things down instead of just saving them digitally. I mean I am not suggesting that the Armageddon is upon us or anything like that, but hey? The Russians have started hoarding type writers and if the grapevine is to be believed, they are saving every scrap of information they believe to be important, the old-fashioned way. Information that they can physically guard as opposed to Putting (again, no pun intended) them up in the cloud where they can just turn into rain and fall on the perched lands of the Serengeti!
Don’t let them IT guys play on your sentiments about the denudation of the Amazon rain forest – their computers run on electricity which is overwhelmingly fossil fuel sourced – so take that piece of paper and start writing. Keep records. Besides, writing, especially with a fountain pen, opens one up to a world of good, you know! Says the Maestro, Calligrapher par Excellence, “hand-written manuscripts have survived the test of time for over 2000 years now, though I am personally sceptical about how long our digitally maintained records will – remember the floppy disk? The video cassette, the CD? I will therefore strongly urge that you keep your important records handwritten. Passwords, bank account numbers, personal accounts … write them down. And oh yes, maintain a diary”.
“I don’t want to do a Cassandra, but what if the ‘www’ becomes the ‘world without web’ due to some unforeseen calamity” asks Prof Janardhan. The net-addicted will suffer from symptoms of cold-turkey, but more importantly, we may have a generation that will be unable to either work the old-fashioned way with pen in hand, or even articulate their thoughts on paper. Can you imagine how wasted their lives will become? The sheer scale of the calamity?”
“Pick up the fountain pen now, when there is still time if you don’t want to repent later” he says!
Thank you, Corona. You locked us up and shocked us enough. And we are going to use this lucid interval to steal a march on you and all your cousins from hell. Yes, the fountain pen is not only mightier than the sword, but also deadlier than the digital and certainly more virtuous and vestal than the virulent virus!