Trying to Making Sense Today’s E-Things World

I once read a mind-blowing article about an attempt by Chinese smartphone vendor Huawei of making advanced artificial intelligence that will take machine-human interactions much more intimate than command-pattern like nowadays.

The top executives of the company admit they wish people will talk to machine as if they were with human beings. On top of that, they expect making people having real friends in lives, someone who can understand their moods, have real conversations unlike today’s setup ones.

Later, they confess they get the idea of making the ‘next level of AI’ after they watch the movie “Her” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. I haven’t watched the movie but I once read it is about a lonely man who falls in love with a virtual woman on the internet.

Long, long before the story I come across another interesting, well, shocking in my opinion, wonderfully written by Anita Rani from BBC in 2013. The link is here. If you haven’t had any time reading the article I will sum it up for you. But please find time to read it later on because it conveys a very sad picture, in my humble opinion.

Let us meet with otaku.

The term otaku refers to “a generation of geeks who have grown up through 20 years of economic stagnation and have chosen to tune out and immerse themselves in their own fantasy worlds.”

Anita meets two otaku, one is Nurikan, a married man, and Yuge, a singleton. The two believe they are in relationships with virtual girlfriends, Rinko and Ne-ne. Their girlfriends are actually virtual figures in a Nintendo computer game called Love Plus, which comes as a small tablet. The men take the girlfriends on actual dates to the park and buy them cakes to celebrate their birthdays.

Silly, isn’t it?

I think today’s technology gradually erodes our very fundamental human beings as His creatures who are vulnerable of loneliness, heartbreaking, disappointment, rejection, abandonment.

As day by day I write and cover stories on newest gadgets, smartphones, applications or laptops, I have come to realize all technology that provides easiness in handle day-to-day tasks doesn’t carry that noble mission anymore. A traditionalist as I still am today, I realize some of them test our sanity. What makes it sounds dangerous is that the technology, as more and more technology updates provide, are working putting what humans’ needs into a smartphone, emotional necessities are included.

That means you will love taking it to bed with you. You will grab it at first the moment you wake up in the morning. And as the first paragraph here suggests, you will feel as if you won’t need real human beings at your side because hey, there is a virtual assistant that make you feel like you have a spouse.

As a person growing up when internet is such a luxury back in the 1990s, mingling with youngsters in free-of-charge chatting applications has put me in mixed kind of feelings.

I am struck by how people can read emojis too much into their hearts. Or the other way around, people’s confidence can be harmed by silence in a group after they show up and say some things, which I don’t think because some things are wrong with their statements. Sometimes quarrels happen because of misunderstanding in virtual group chat. Subhanalloh.. It’s hard to believe how virtual dialogue has taken us that serious..

And now I get it when I, again, once read an article saying for some people, social media is their actual world. This trend is captured very well through Beautification artificial intelligence/AI features by today’s smartphones. My friend once jokes you don’t need make up to hide your pimples, wrinkles in your face. With the Beautification AI you can be your ‘best version of yourself’, show ‘the real you’, or whatever that is!

If you really read current gadget trends, you will see how camera department is one of the biggest challenges for any smartphone producers out there because people keep getting looking validation through screens, from people whom they don’t even meet yet. They wish they can look younger, more beautiful, happier, living life to the fullest, yes with the help of machines.

I don’t say I am against advanced technology. Mind you, my current job is writing about technology. Saying I detest this job means I am ungrateful over the money from Alloh swt through this profession.

I write this piece of story to actually remind myself who have been carried away by technology too far. I used to take a public transportation to go to certain places but now I choose online ojek.

I used to drink water the first time I wake up in the morning but now checking Instagram and Facebook is the first activity that I do. And the last thing that I do before going to sleep is opening media social accounts. Subhanalloh.. I have to constantly tell myself doing such things mean taking the busyness of daily life into the most tranquil moment I should enjoy the most; sleeping.

When technicians, IT experts or whatever we call them, create gadgets, especially smartphones and social media, they try the hardest to help us, but don’t be too naïve as competition gets juicier, some firms put another mission on progress, not wholly intend to help us sincerely. Man, of course, at the end of the day they want money and more money.

Dealing with loneliness, rejection and other emotional pains is frightening but very essential to make us realize we live as a creature meant to live with scars that won’t downgrade our value unless we let them to do so.

Take time to cope with this. Don’t immediately take spiritual approach to solve the situations as ustadz Nouman Ali Khan says don’t get confused with emotional and spiritual needs. Spirituality will help recovery but emotional assistance is the first and foremost, and please, avoid escaping from reality through gadgets, drugs, alcohols, shopping or whatever that is.

Keep using technology but with mindfulness, that at the end of the day we decide what will we do with them not what they will do for us.

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Welcoming myself back here, at this ‘home’

Every time I make a comeback I will write this sort of note. I don’t know for how many times I compose this piece of writing for never mind about that, because yep.. here I am again after months of hiatus.

The last time I put traces here are in January. Things happen a lot after that. Personally, professionally..

My father was badly sick at the end of January. Alhamdulillahirobbil’alamiiin he is improving very well now. Thank you to Alloh swt for making him recovering again. My father’s illness is so far the most devastating thing occurring in my life. I was spending about two weeks at the hospital in Semarang, taking care of him, well to be precise, helping my mother and sister taking a good care of him because I am so bad at taking care sick people. Also, I had to work at his side at that time.

I can say that those moments were the hardest ones to have coped with. Not only I was so sad witnessing my father lamenting and complaining about his sickness, but also at the same time I had to work harder than usual. My health was a little bit declining given physiological stress that I had to endure given my father’s condition.

Alhamdulillahirobbil’alamin.. I can also say that the two-weeks time was also the sweetest chances for me to have got together again with my mother, my sister and my relatives. Alloh swt had the best kind of way to have put us together into one room, 24 hours a day without having too much to do other than talking and laughing and taking good care of each other. It was incredible to remind myself how the challenging times were actually His best way of making the bond of the four of us much stronger than already is.

Early March, I came back to Jakarta again for working and being active again in Ketimbang Ngemis Jakarta. On the way back to Palmerah, I was smiling at myself as I felt so glad coming back to the capital. By that time, I promised to myself that if my dad’s health restored again, I would consider another problem as small, unworthy of tears rolling down my cheeks.

But you know what happened?

For around two months I often cried because of bullying. The story is my former employer offered a freelance copywriting job for his client, a state agency. I was excited at that time because I needed the type of job that he offered. The payment was good, I believed the monthly money would be transferred at agreed time. I was thinking the job would be easy as I had only to compose one caption per day for some social media platforms plus photo caption.

From the very beginning of the job, the clients were demanding, if the word “annoying” was too negative. At first I was still patient until their overly critics were making my patience running very thin. For instance, they gave critics over the grammar that I applied. Although I defended my choice, they kept complaining. Sometimes, they made me changing the captions that I had written for reasons I didn’t understand. That meant I had to work twice but with the same payment.

Sometimes they behaved like school kids. When they were busy, they didn’t care about my writing, they just agreed on it. But when they were having spare time, they gave critics, a lot of them, most of them were nonsense! Like, changing “Republic of Indonesia” to “Indonesia”, zzzz…

Or “Thomas Lembong” to “Tom Lembong” as if everyone in the country knows him that friendly! The thing that made me realizing they were bullying me was when they said my caption on the use of artificial intelligence in smartphones was pointless. Oh I wish I could slap their faces at that time! I am serious!

That was the moment I cried the hardest (I previously cried but not that painful). That was the time I realized I was underestimated, that I was almost at the verge of doubting myself, my capability. Then I reminded myself the times when I was bullied at The Jakarta Post and The Jakarta Globe. I was at the lowest points of my life in terms of career paths.

So, I made up my mind I didn’t let anyone again doing the similar thing to me. Not long after the ‘bullshit remark they made on the smartphone caption’, I resigned, just two months from the agreed 10 month-contract.

Right now, I rely on my job as a freelance journalist for You can say I took high risk letting the copywriting job go without replacements yet but I am fine because at least I don’t have to cry over that stupid people’ responses. I am going to write my returning to journalism with in another story for it’s a very wonderful one to share.

Between March and early May, I was very hectic, especially with the copywriting part. And now, I have more time to think, read and of course come back here again. I miss filling up this blog because I have mostly written in Bahasa Indonesia since February. I miss expressing feelings, taking out whatever inside my chest in this platform.

I will also share what I have with Nouman Ali Khan, my favorite Islamic speaker some other time. I hope I have time for that.

And oh, reading novels?

Don’t worry. I keep on reading, and since I have more time now, I will get back at the current title, which is “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, hehehe..

It feels good to be back here, at the place where I can feel at peace and let things out without having the need of gaining many views or clicks..