The Department of Psychology is a constant source of inspiration for the Jainites. Ashwini Ganig made Jain (Deemed-to-be University) proud by presenting her “FOCUS” theory at the St. Gallen Symposium, Switzerland, in May. We can add the name of Deepti Swamy to the list now. Deepti is a Ph.D. scholar in psychology and her essay, “Left: Technocrat, Right: Digital Pariah, Humanity in the middle” fetched the tenth position in the Global Peter Drucker Essay Challenge. Deepti has been invited to attend the seventh Global Peter Drucker Forum on November 5–6, 2015 in Vienna to debate and deliberate on her essay, which is based on the theme “Managing Humanity in the Digital World”. Deepti chatted with us about her essay and the Peter Drucker Challenge.
How did you come to know about the Peter Drucker essay writing challenge?
A colleague of mine, Ms. Ashwini NV, whose idea had been voted as the ‘Next Small Big Idea’ at this year’s St. Gallen Symposium, first heard about this competition. She was the one who told me about this and encouraged me to write the essay for this competition.
How did you zero in on your topic “Left: Technocrat, Right: Digital Pariah, Humanity in the middle”?
The broad theme for the Global Peter Drucker Challenge this year was “Managing Humanity in the Digital World.” I personally enjoy technology and love to keep abreast of the latest trends. I also unashamedly enjoy the benefits of how technology can make our lives easier. But that said, I do realize the importance of moving away from technology once in a while and stop to smell the flowers, to put it figuratively. It is this point that I put forth in the essay.
What were your expectations when you drafted the essay?
When I drafted the essay, I did have moderate expectations regarding the results. I knew I had made a good argument. My only worry was that I didn’t argue from a “management” point of view since it was a contest with Peter Drucker’s name in it! I wasn’t really sure if my psychological perspective would be valid enough in that forum.
What was the feeling when you learned that you were in the top ten?
I was kind of stunned to realize that I had actually been placed among the top ten! I think it took a whole week for me to realize that I was actually going to be attending the Peter Drucker Forum this year! But I was also glad that the argument I had made in the essay had been validated by the superb judges of the essay competition.
Are you excited about the trip to Vienna?
I simply love world history and new cultural experiences. So Vienna was definitely on my bucket list! I am very excited about the trip to Vienna. I am also hoping to meet several experts in the city with whom I plan to discuss my doctoral work as well!
What aspect of the essay do you plan to highlight while presenting it in Vienna?
While there won’t be a formal presentation of the essay, there will be several group discussions during the three days. After all, it is a Forum coming together to debate on finding realistic solutions to how we can retain humanity in the current world. I hope to put forward a psychosocial perspective on this topic during the discussions since it is my understanding that most experts will be coming from the field of management.
In your essay you say, “The ambit of the Internet is shockingly high and ever-increasing,” can you explain it a little further
The world has become drastically closer to the advent of the Internet. Every day, newer applications are being developed—each of which is aimed at making our lives simpler. If I need to find some information about any topic, it is instantly accessible at my fingertips. It is that simple. I do not need to put in any effort at all to gain anything. Gone are the days when we would have had to pour over scores of books to write an essay or assignment. All I would need is a couple of clicks on the computer and voila! That is why I find it shocking that people have accepted the Internet so easily when we are losing value in a lot of things that held great meaning for us earlier.
As a psychology student, how do you evaluate the psychological effects of the Internet Revolution on us?
It is definitely fascinating to look at the Internet Revolution from a psychological perspective. Indeed a lot of our research is being focused on understanding the effects of the Internet on our psychological selves. For me, it is interesting to see its effects from a social and psychological perspective, since that is my area of specialization. I see that even though closer relationships can be formed with the use of the Internet, it is instead driving people apart! I argue this point out in my essay as well. When people have their heads buried into their tablets or smartphones, who has the time for face-to-face communication?
Do you really think that we have lost our humanity in the digital age?
To put it briefly—not yet! As close to the end of the edge as we are, we have thankfully not yet toppled over the cliff. But as I see it, the day may not be far off. To be fair though, I credit people’s indifference to lack of attention and observation than with out-and-out callousness. When we lose the will to look around and see what is happening around us, we miss the opportunity to display those traits that makeup humanity like kindness, empathy, and emotional bonding.
You mention in your essay about the judicial use of technology, do you have any specific strategies that you wish to implement?
I definitely do not want to leave all the technology behind. But I do personally set limits for myself with the use of technology. Like leaving my cell phone inside my bag when relaxing or even something small like not using a calculator for smaller calculations! As a bibliophile, a tablet is something of a boon for me because of its storage capacity. Then again, I do occasionally like to feel the pages of books while reading, so I make it a point to switch between the two modes constantly. Not using your cell phones while at the dinner table is another strategy that can really help. So it is all really about not feeling so connected to technology that it makes you anxious to leave it behind.
Is there a difference between urban and rural populations with regard to the use of technology, especially mobile-internet technology?
Right now, yes. From personal observation, I can say that the rural population has to play catch up with at least essential technology. It can be useful, for example, for farmers to have apps on their mobiles to help them resolve issues immediately. But we must be careful that they don’t start emulating the urban population.
What is your research topic at Jain (Deemed-to-be University)? How are you finding life at Jain (Deemed-to-be University)?
My doctoral thesis focuses on understanding one’s commitment towards the sub-identities that compose one’s Social Identity in young, employed Bangaloreans. Since I have been in Jain (Deemed-to-be University) for my M.Sc. and M.Phil., the JC Road campus especially has become something of a second home for me! I absolutely enjoy being part of the Department of Psychology at Jain (Deemed-to-be University) and learn something from each one there every single day!
Right now, I am at a very crucial juncture with my doctoral work. I have begun my data collection and it promises to be an uphill task, so all my energies have been directed into successfully completing it soon. Of course, I am also looking forward to heading to Vienna in November for the Peter Drucker Forum!