The New Age Obsessions

The digital age and technology have brought many disruptions to everyday life in India. Many rules are being broken; many age-old habits are being challenged, while some are being preserved quite consciously. A consequence of these times is the surplus time at hand and the need to fill life up with new occupations, hobbies and pass times.

In these times many old habits are replaced with the new. We demand much more from people, relationships, brands and organizations. With everything being a click away, new habits are being formed. Today’s newspaper readers do not necessarily subscribe to the physical newspaper, they snack through the day and nibble on news from various applications and social media platforms.

Learning today also finds new meaning. With the ability to google and access any information, the learning ecosystem is re-inventing itself too. Every home will find a photographer and new-passion pursuers. While the doctors and engineers still rule the marriage market- CEOs and MBAs have made their own entry too. Never before have we as a race been more open to try, explore and discover the new.

With confidence in ourselves our ability to embrace, accept and own the new especially with food is visible in restaurants, homes and on streets. Not only have we embraced new cuisines, but have embraced new ways of seeing food. We eat with our eyes now not our taste buds alone. We bring home new techniques, ingredients and interests. Kitchens are no longer negative labour zones of the home where daily chores are performed. They are often becoming gender agnostic and seamlessly becoming part of living rooms and changing lives in homes.

The focus on the self is another thing in today’s times. A self-aware generation, we curate the way we look, dress, speak and behave. Everyone today is a brand, describing oneself in multifaceted ways on Twitter profiles and Linkedin accounts. We groom our bodies in gyms and beauty parlours. Our homes represent a place that we aspire to be rather than where we come from.

Parenting is a modern day phenomenon. What once happened unconsciously and in flow is practiced as a science these days. As an action, lived as a verb new age Indian parents have workshops to attend; books and blogs to read, techniques to learn. Parents introspect on the types of parenting approaches possible in order to be the right and perfect parent. Important to note, in this new era of Indian parenting, is the role of the father. The millennial dads are active, eager participants not just on-lookers in child rearing, bringing about a fundamental shift in the way in which children grew up in India. With fewer children being born to couples, today parenting in India is aware and conscious vis-à-vis in the past when parents produced kids but the village or the collective raised them.

Practiced almost as if it were a profession or a job, parenting which naturally existed since as long as humans have existed is today a perfected art and science. In India too gradually the action oriented idea of child rearing seems to be emerging across socio-economic classes. Perhaps as families are getting smaller and as we move away from the natural safety nest of grand parents, uncles and aunts, new age parents find the need to model this and craft it into a spread sheet with clear goals and predictive outcomes.

In these digital times, the mind is also perhaps at work always. Being connected to micro and macro happenings around the world, nation or family constantly, is compelling the need to respond and almost react to every happening big, small, consequential or not. The need to have an opinion on any and every subject has emerged. And we can’t be stopped just opining, we also believe in asserting, expressing and voicing our opinions on every platform, group possible.

For Indians, this a new way of life! Living in herds, in tribes and as a part of the larger whole of the family an individual found few occasions to assert or even worry about their own views and opinions. The voice of the patriarch was the voice of the family. But with new age media forces, things have changed. We are creators and consumers of the news. We are forced to think of what we like, dislike, share and perfect our opinions and stance. This obsession, is unique- earlier, we contained our staunch ideas and ideologies. They were shared with a trusted few. Rarely would we express our political leanings out loud. The secret ballot meant that individual political leanings were also meant to be a secret. Today everyone wears their political preference up their sleeve, opining, broadcasting and showcasing their own political inclinations. Opining is a national hobby and the nature of media today, makes us all believe that we have a voice, we must be heard and we must speak!

Many shifts are visible in new India. As Gen-C, the connected generation emerges, economic progress is made and as traditional gender roles evolve, Indian society finds new pre-occupations and fascinations. In the future of India, it will be interesting to see how these new habits influence our roles and the mental-model of age old habits and practices.

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