The CUT and PASTE Syndrome


By Umer Raza Bhutta

It has become increasingly easy these days to be in contact with anyone and all this at no cost or at a very minimal price. Cell phones, emails, websites, facebook, linkedin, twitter etc. are such sources that give us opportunities to connect with others anywhere, any time. When you are messaging or doing a status update or twitting, what it requires is just a simple knowledge of English typing and you are through. You do not require a thesaurus or a vocabulary data bank to write anything. Another great opportunity to facilitate us is the CUT and PASTE feature in our computers. This feature is a heaven for many of us, as we even do not have to type anything, just use the ctrl > c and ctrl > v function and we are through. The person who invented such a thing is a “JANATI” (blessed) indeed.

Anyhow, looking at the other side of the picture, this function has crippled our habit of writing and using our own upper portion of the head, and the original juice of creativity. This has also increased our temptation to become a known facebook/linkedin celebrity and to ease our way towards advertising ourselves. Be it facebook or linkedin or any other social network, you can see hundreds of updates daily and most of these are inserted while using the CUT and PASTE function of the computer, or while using an installed application. Many of these are the quotations from any famous guru of management, philosopher and any other business magnet. Another thrust is the religious quotes, photos and movie clips. Good as far as sharing of good thoughts is concerned. However, awful when it is done at the cost of creativity, original thoughts, lack of follow-up and no practice.

Another point of mass usage is the SMS text messaging. This feature has also made the connection with each other very easy. The cost of such connection is also very low. At the same time you might have noticed the stream of messages coming to your mobile during Eid, 14 August and any other national or religious festivity. These messages on the one hand are a way to connect with the recipient in an easy and cost-effective way. On the other it also present the impersonal and general way of connection. These messages on the one hand show that you have sent someone a felicitation message on an important occasion, on the other they also go to show that you deal all with one shot and that you tend to market yourself in a cheap way. While sending someone a message we pick a message (most of us cut and paste or forward sms from an already written text) and then select a long list of recipients from our address book and send it. Our messages reach to all those whom we know (and not sure if recipients knows us or not). Such a system has made us tune towards easing out our contact with other people and letting others know that we exist. However, it has taken away the personal touch, the etiquettes of sharing felicitations and increased the personal desire to be known by many. It may not be with many, but I feel most of such messages are sent with a view that when we will have any personal agenda and/or work with the person he/she might know us in advance. Thus most of such messages are with a tint of getting a personal gain in future.

There was a time when we used to send cards and at that time we used to write the name of the person whom we are sending the card. I am not saying that we should spend on buying a card and attaching a stamp and then waiting for few days for the card to be delivered. We must take advantage of the new technology but at the same time we must not forget the basic etiquettes of sending a greeting. We feel touched and personally high when we receive a message, an email or a card with our name on it, and we really feel closer to the person who has sent the message. However, while sending a bulk message (thanks to the cut and paste facility) we have created an impersonal way of felicitation to a very happy event. I found a similarity the other day to this kind of impersonal behavior i.e. when we visit someone, there is a difference indeed in “Chahat” when we are served, with a Coke/a bottled beverage or a tea/handmade juice. The later shows a personal touch and a feeling of love with effort, while the former may shows a lesser degree of care and personal touch.

I have seen people loving and admiring the original work and also seen the original work been appreciated. When we always love to see originality in creation why we use the short CUTS and wish they result in long PASTES. When we love ourselves to be addressed by name, why we just cut and paste the message to everyone in the contact list without any names. Isn’t it a bit impersonal toward others and with an urge to be known by many.

Through this I do not want to discourage many who send messages and use cut and paste function frequently, but I would emphasis on the fact that by doing so we are missing out on two important elements of human capability and i.e. the Originality and uniqueness of human being and the closeness of human touch that may result on the basis of our personal message. When we miss out on these elements of human capability we fall short of reaching at the glory of being a superior creation as made by Allah.

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