There’s one group that rolls its eyes at the idea of Valentine’s Day—or week, as it has now become—and on the other side of the fence are those who throw themselves wholeheartedly into celebrating with flowers and gifts. But it has been a year of restricted dating and socialising, so it will be technology that dictates celebration again. The internet has influenced every facet of life for years, but it’s really the coronavirus pandemic that showed us how entwined our lives are with it. For most Indians, especially those living in cities, there was a tech solve for every pandemic disruption—from school and hospital visits to weddings and concerts. It’s just over 25 years since internet services were launched in India, and in that time, it has changed our relationships irrevocably, for worse, some would say, but in many ways for the better.
Our cover story this week examines this transformation of the way we live, work, love, make friends, and grieve online. The pandemic has accelerated and deepened this dependence on technology to connect human beings, and rewritten the rules of all relationships. It has also helped businesses grow faster—something Ferns N Petals’ Vikaas Gutgutia talks to Lounge about. He has married the best of online and offline practices, combining years of experience of meeting customers and understanding emotions with the opportunity that technology offers to network florists across cities and help him dream of owning the gifting space.
Using technology, whether for fun or work, usually entails a struggle to balance the excitement of new opportunity with the consequences of too much exposure. So, there’s the downside—everything from doomscrolling to trolling and lack of data privacy, but for the most part, it’s one of the few ways for many Indians to form networks and build communities. In a nod to older ways of forming social networks, we have a story on Bengaluru’s Ashwath kattes and gatherings around these sacred peepal trees, which have spawned their own rules of engagement over centuries, and ways of preserving these links.
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