On average, 16 gigabytes of hard disk space can hold about 6,000 books. Technological developments have made it possible, the PR machinery of tech giants constantly reminds us, to access, share and easily store more data than ever before. But India’s social media sanskaris have challenged this basic assumption of the digital age. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the eggheads at Google were puzzled by smartphones in India running out of space at a rapid rate. After furious research, they discovered the culprit: The good morning message.
Google’s findings only confirm what many smartphone-wielding Indians already know: Every morning, a flood of WhatsApp messages, embedded in an image (CG landscapes, divinities, flowers) and accompanied by a saying (which hopes someday to rise to a cliché), choke inboxes across the country. These “broadcast” messages have increased manifold as the number and spread of internet-enabled devices has multiplied. Google is now reportedly launching an app, complete with image-recognition software and Artificial Intelligence protocols, to help customers weed out the space-guzzling greetings from their phones. But the malaise of the good morning assault is more than just a technological issue.
The internet has indeed made instant, voluminous communication the norm. Distance, that catalyst for engendering fondness in hearts, is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. For the 200 million active WhatsApp users in India, the internet age has enabled a regular, virtual verboseness that used to be a feature of large families and close-knit communities. There really is more space for data today than ever before. And the smartphone, like nature, seems to abhor a vacuum. If there aren’t enough libraries to fill up that space, good morning messages (the AI clearance app notwithstanding), will continue to pour in.