Technology Is Destroying us

It had been almost three hours since my phone rang, it literally became a paperweight on my desk as I stared and stared at it wondering when it would burst back to life. Two local service providers had encountered issues with their service and let us know that this would take a while to fix, “all voice calls and some SMS services will be affected by this outage and we are working hard to try and fix this inconvenience as soon as possible” followed by silence for the rest of the evening from their end.

Naturally this news that our reliable service provider would not be able to do the one job it had to do would inconvenience us for a few more hours and what soon became most of the night was met with rage and shrieks of misery. Comments included demands for discounts and threats to switch companies and complaints that people simply couldn’t go on living their lives on a Wednesday evening because they were incapable of texting and making calls. The horror, the pain! It’s as if suddenly, without our cellphones to distract us and make us feel important, we were forced to sit down with ourselves and actually hear the thoughts in our heads and spend time alone not knowing what was happening around us.

And that apparently was simply a total and complete disaster.

We’ve become so depended on this beautiful meshing of metal, glass and technology that we’ve forgotten the beauty of a thoughtful conversation and human interaction. We have literally stopped speaking to each other because we are so caught up with our phones and our text messages and our technology in general. We need to be connected every minute of the day every day of the week and the minute something goes wrong in our perfect technology world, we lose it because the thought of being alone with ourselves is terrifying. How can we find out what our friends are doing? How can we find out where everyone is? What they’re doing? Who they’re speaking to? How can we live another second without being able to communicate through our phones?

Past generations used landlines to speak to each other and would actually have hour long conversations that were significant and purposeful. They would go out and meet each other, enjoy one another’s company and walk away from the meeting with new thoughts, ideas and insight on life without the constant interruption of a ring or a ding from their cellphones. They were less stressed out, less concerned with our surroundings and more alive, living every moment without having to stop and check ourselves in or text a friend or call someone to share this moment with. Today we go out and find solitude simply to tell the world: “Hi, I’m sitting all alone in my tent now contemplating life and I’m loving every second! Just thought I’d let you know.”

Today, we don’t enjoy each other’s company, we sometimes don’t even care for it, it would be much easier for you to simply text me whatever you want and I’ll respond if and when I feel the need. We barely talk on the phone because we just don’t have time for it anymore, text it or message me on Facebook or send me email. We’ve convinced ourselves that we lead incredibly busy lives and have much more important things to do than appreciate one another’s presence, we just show each other we care by liking posts on Facebook or actually responding to your text messages. Our existence is literally confirmed through technology, we only feel alive when we’re receiving messages or growing our followers online, the day you post something online and it doesn’t receive any type of positive feedback is the worst day of your life, it probably feels worst than a friend telling you that they will never speak to you again. We’ve associated our importance with the technology we were given and the response we receive from these channels: if the response is high then we must be cool people, if the response is low then we must be uncool people. We confirm friendships and relationships on Facebook because we all know that if it’s not online then it’s not official.

The ranting and raging continues on the Facebook pages of these service providers who now have a national issue confirming our existence on planet earth. The longer this issue goes, the more time we are forced to spend with ourselves and our thoughts, some thoughts that many would rather drown out with the noise that technology has created in our lives. Sadly, most people have set up camp in front of their laptops, the same people that can’t imagine life without this lifeline or tolerate the voices in their heads or the physical company of another human being. We need to wake up from this trance, we’re missing out on the best years of our lives because we are glued to some form of a screen. The view outside is beautiful, much more beautiful than the one on your phone or laptop background, you should really go out and see it.


Long Live Le Quebec Libre

When you think of Montreal, you think of a melting pot of cultures and religions that somehow come together to create this mock United Nations city that boasts its international reputation for multiculturalism, and the best part is that it all works. Local montrealers will laugh at the idea of having had a meal in an authentic Indian restaurant and then caught a Chinese movie at the International Film Festival or a performance by an artist from Africa at the Jazz Festival. Tourists are left amazed by the way all these cultures coexist in the city; we embrace the diversity rather than push one another away because of it.

While all of this is something to be commended on as Montrealers, we also have a reputation for speaking out when we don’t like something in the government, we are no pushover in the eyes of our government. Recently, the Charte Des Valeurs Quebecois has been said to need a bit of tweaking and rewriting as Premier Pauline Marois discusses the bill that would ban all ostentatious religious symbols from the public sector. In the hopes of neutralizing the services that are available to us, she feels that openly practicing your religion has no place in our hospitals, schools and government institutions.

As her campaign began in the hopes that it would raise support for this sudden stomp on Québécois people’s right to practice their religion without fear or repercussion, protestors took to the streets to voice their anger towards it. People from all walks of life came out last Saturday to show their discontent for the charter that would cause many of them to lose their jobs if they refused to remove their religious symbols and many more protests have been organized for the coming days.

The importance of this protest in the history of Montreal is primordial as it did something which none of the other protests ever did; it brought us all together under one demand. This protest was not just for a certain age group, a certain religion or a certain culture, it was for all Montrealers who felt that the government was overstepping their bounds in terms of dictating what can and cannot be done. Quebecois, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Anglophone, Francophone, old and young all came together for one cause; to defend our rights to practice our religion, to live free and safe in the city we called our home the day we immigrated to it.

Protests will always be a part of the Montreal scene, so much so that we’ve learnt to maneuver our way around the city when we hear the distant chants of angry, yet peaceful, mobs fighting for the rights of people locally or internationally. The hope is that this protest will be different though, that because the melting pot of cultures has solidified into one entity, we will be effective enough and strong enough to defend the rights of our fellow Quebecois no matter what religion they practice.


A Little Bit Of Political Discrimination

In the heart of Canadian borders lies a province that is unlike any other in the region. It has its own personality, its own language and its own version of history and how it came to be. Quebec is the only french proving found within these borders and the city of Montreal specifically boasts a french vibe with a very multicultural society to add to the unique experience every tourist comes looking for when planning a visit to the city. Local Montrealers are elated by the idea that you can walk down any of our main streets downtown and enjoy food and music from across the globe without leaving the comfort of your hometown until recently.  

Pauline Marois, the 30th Premier of Quebec and leader of the Parti Quebecois, took it upon herself to give the province a well-deserved facelift. How you might ask is she going about doing this? Well, she has decided to attempt to pass a law that will forbid the donning of any religious symbols in any public sector jobs; religious symbols include everything from the jewish kippa to the sikh turban all the while not forgetting to add the muslim hijab. At a time when war is looming above the heads of innocent syrians and people are dying in order to demand the right to a democracy in Egypt and Bahrain, Marois is fighting against people's right to practice their own religion in the city they live in without bothering anyone else. 

It's interesting to see this taking place because in response to this, I heard many people simply say they would move to the nicer and more welcoming english side of the country and set up camp there. None of us are tied down by a chain to Quebec and so leaving would be very easy on many of us, especially for those immigrants who have not mastered the french language and still suffer from huffs and puffs of frustration from shopkeepers and sales reps that joined the movement "Ici, On commerce en Francais". Life across the border in Ontario is like a safe haven to these people who left their countries because of repressive regimes and dictatorships only to find themselves living under yet another government that oversteps its boundaries. What happened to freedom of expression and all that fancy stuff they talk about during their election campaigns? 

Consider this fair warning Premier Marois, if your plan to stomp on our freedom to practice our religion openly and without feeling threatened works out, you will most likely lose a huge portion of the population you think you control. None are willing to succumb to your ridiculously racist demands and seeing as we aren't chained to the Fleur de Lis we can very well pack up and move anywhere we wish leaving you to ponder the next great racist scheme you want to apply to this beautiful province.

And if you consider telling any of us to go back to our countries the response you should expect is as follows: On est deja dans notre pays Madame Marois.