Lockdown Learnings: Overcoming my Luddite mindset

Guest Column: Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer 82.5 Communications, writes how he triumphed over his own mental block about technology during the lockdown

e4m by Sumanto Chattopadhyay
Updated: Jul 16, 2020 3:02 PM

I’m a bit of a Luddite. I’m also The English Nut – which is why I use words like Luddite. And being a Luddite means that I’m a troglodyte when it comes to things like tech and digital. 

Or at least I was. Until lockdown forced me to change. 

On the off chance that you don’t know what Luddite and troglodyte mean, dear reader, let me elucidate. A Luddite is a person who isn’t good with technology. A troglodyte is a caveman: Metaphorically speaking, someone who’s not in tune with modern stuff, including technology. 

People say, “there’s an app for that”, but I used to say, “there’s a colleague for that”. (Yikes! I just realised how opportunistic that sounds.) Every time I got stuck with something on my smartphone or laptop, or my eyes glazed over while reading about the intricacies of blockchain, I would reach out to any colleague in the vicinity – someone young, preferably, because it meant he or she was better equipped to help me out, by virtue of being a member of a club from which I was forever barred, that of the digital native. But all that was in the era ‘Before Corona’. 

Cut to lockdown. 

The English Nut, my social media venture, had thus far run on the kindness of friends, colleagues and wedding videographers who shot my videos for me. Now, the only way my vlog could continue was if I shot myself. I decided that the show must go on. 

I started by balancing my past-its-sell-by-date smartphone against my laptop screen. The latter was placed on a pile of books to get the height right. I used the high-tech method of adding or removing books of different thickness to titrate the precise level of my smartphone camera. But then I encountered a problem with lighting: I discovered that the ‘mood’ lighting in my flat was not conducive to shooting. I eventually licked the issue by figuring out that the sun streamed into my study a little before sunset, giving me a short window of time with sufficient light. 

My first lockdown video looked grotty, but the standards slowly improved. I was advised though that, beyond a point, I needed to get an iPhone if I wanted to improve visual quality further – it is apparently the preferred choice of serious content creators. (It is remarkable that we no longer bat an eyelid about judging a phone by its camera!) Initially, getting a new phone was not an option. Then two things happened on the same day: 1. My old smartphone died. 2. By fortuitous happenstance, it was the very day shops selling phones were allowed to open. 

Until then, I had wondered why I paid the monthly rental on my landline. I had thus far used it only as a ‘high-tech’ locator of my mobile, whenever I misplaced the latter at home. But on that fateful day it came into its own: Communicating via this ‘classic’ piece of communication technology, I managed to get a brand-new iPhone delivered to me at 9pm that evening – just six hours after the demise of my android phone. 

Then came a steep learning curve. Starting with boning up on the ideal camera settings on the new phone and continuing on to buying tripods and ring lights on Amazon – I overcame my imposter syndrome and began to feel like a ‘real’ content creator. (It was high time, given that The English Nut has been around since January 2019.) 

I still have a long way to go in terms of overcoming my Luddite mindset. But I do have a new-found confidence that I can figure out technical stuff on my own – be it about pattern interrupts in YouTube videos or cryptographic hash functions in blockchain. I’ve started using various apps to create my content. And even when there isn’t an app for ‘that’, I’ve realised that there usually is a ‘how-to’ article or video to tell you how it’s done. 

From being a caveman, I’ve progressed to turning my man cave into an agency branch with a mini studio.


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