Bloody pain in the neck!

The influence of computers, and the digital world in general, started showing in our lives around the mid-90s. Getting a desktop computer was a huge deal in the house. Back then, clock rate of 300MHz was considered to be meteoric and the ‘Pentium’ sticker was a big flaunt item.

I remember caring for it with absolute obsession. Our Compaq was set up lovingly in the corner of the room. Even the table on which it was kept got more love than it ever had. That entire area was always spotless and it made mom — who was passionately against the computer — finally find at least one reason to thank the machine for.

Parents had enforced a strict time limit for computer usage. My sister and I would take turns to work on it. She’d often run her authority due to the biological advantage of a couple of years she has on me. In my mind, she was the biggest villain in existence. All the torment and bullying only to get a few minutes more on the machine over her little brother — such a devil. It was instantly after fighting over the computer would stop that I’d realise she’s a sweetheart. 

Our time on the computer was so limited that we looked forward to the days when our parents went out for social events. They’d make my sister in-charge and wanted her to keep a check on me — make sure I didn’t spend much time on the computer. Only, she was the one spending most of the time on it anyway. What was I saying about her being a sweetheart? Yeah, scratch that.

It wasn’t only the computer we were excited about. We had dial-up Internet, too. Such luxury! The noise it made while waiting for the connection to get established felt like a million birds were being choked followed by a grinder working overtime. And weirdly, we celebrated once it all went calm because — Internet! 

I didn’t quite like the initial experience of the WWW. All I wanted to do was find racing games and race against other people around the world. It started growing on me though — more so as I discovered the intimate study of human anatomy across several websites.

But I still really wanted to play racing games. So much that 90% of my time went in that and I even ignored education of the kind I mentioned above.

Just around that time, I was dipping my toes in the real world of motorsport, too. I’d been racing Go-Karts in the local circles and was quite good at it. While those weren’t pulling over 2Gs like super powerful shifter karts, they were still quite firm on the muscles — arms and neck especially. With a helmet on, a spine-crusher for suspension and exposed to the elements, Go-Karts were rough on the body and I’d feel my neck hurting some times and pebbles turned to dust.

In college — with technology getting better, Internet speeds getting faster, human anatomy education sites becoming more intense and racing games getting richer in graphics — the amount of time spent in front of a computer became greater. And the setting wasn’t as ergonomic as back at home. I was beginning to bend like a spineless street-shop owner.

Having just started racing in open-top tin cans at the MMRT race-track, I fixed myself and started working on my neck muscles and overall posture. Some friends back in college were worse off. One guy even had severe cervical and lower-back issue.

Time progressed, my time of pro-racing came to an end prematurely, and thankfully! It was time to settle down in a job. I would’ve been a disaster in a regular job, so I decided to pursue where my heart belonged. I became a motoring journalist. One thing that didn’t change from a regular job was the office chair. It was terrible.

In this circus of testing cars, I’ve always been particularly interested in seats. Good seats and a great driving position made me warm up to even the most average of cars. Upright and support in all the crucial places, neck resting nicely, legs relaxingly stretched out with just the sufficient amount of bend and hands perfect length away on the steering wheel — this made driving pleasurable.

Through all these years, Internet has reached incredible speeds. My mobile handset has several thousand times the computing power of the Compaq from my salad years and racing games have become magnificently realistic.

So, after many, many years I downloaded a game again. It was Real Racing 3. Fantastic game; loved every bit of it! Until the time it happened — the bloody sprain in the neck. I’d deleted all such addictive games, but then I was told about one game that was making the headlines. I buckled and installed Formula 1 on my phone a couple of years back. Again, amazing graphics and slick performance. And again, the damn neck sprain. I was overdoing it and needed physiotherapy sessions — it was that bad.

Covid-19 is a terrible thing to have happened to humankind. This lockdown is a great work of leaders and countryfolk coming together to defeat the virus. It’s also a great time to get some games back on phone. I downloaded Formula 1 again about a week ago. It’s not as bad this time around, but I do sense a hint of pain reoccurring. 

It’s all to do with the damned phone — the way we use it. Necks are forever bent and our backs are curving. 

While technology is a great asset and exhibits societal progress, it’s also a literal pain in the neck. Sit upright and limit your time on the screen. I’ll delete the game in the very near future, I just know it.

Tend to your bodily issues. And I am not in any way hinting at immersing yourself in special sites imparting anatomical education.

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