REFLECTIONS

The equalising effect of technology

As seen from an AirBnB experience

In Summary

Tech removes the barriers of social status, capital and even geographical location when it comes to access

Technology banking
Technology banking
Image: COURTESY

I woke up a little after 10 o’clock in the morning to the sound of chirping birds by the bedroom window. I lay there on the four-poster canopy double bed thinking (not for the first time) I should learn to wake up a little earlier.

Oh well, it’s a Saturday, a little lie-in wasn’t entirely out of order. It had rained sometime in the night, so even with the sun out in all its shining glory this morning, the bedroom was cool with the air conditioner off.

Moments later, I was out of bed, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and walking towards the double doors in the bedroom that opened out onto the balcony. Not too far off, the sounds of the ocean were discernible. A little closer, someone was splashing around in the swimming pool.

Out in the balcony, and looking down at the backyard, I warned my youngest daughter to stop diving headfirst into the pool.

‘I want to touch the dolphins,’ she called out in her 10-year-old voice.

There’s a family of dolphins painted in blue at the bottom of the swimming pool.

‘No diving,’ I said.

Downstairs, breakfast had been laid out on the dining table that seats 10. After I was done with breakfast, I stepped into the living room, switched on the television and flipped through the news channels.

‘Are you finished with the orange juice?’ asked the house help from the dining table, while clearing up.

Looking at the glass jug of juice, I couldn’t decide for a moment. ‘I’ll just have a glass, thank you,’ I finally said.

I few minutes later, I was outside standing on the edge of the property, by the filigreed wrought-iron gate that opens to a flight of balustrade stairs that lead to the beach. The property is a white villa on a cliff right on the beach with five bedrooms, two of which are master bedrooms, both with balconies with a view of the ocean.

‘I could get used to this,’ I murmured as I took a sip of juice from a tall glass. Behind me, the kids were splashing and still diving in the pool.

This is my house, even it’s only for the next five days. For me and my family to enjoy for a short time the good life, the well-heeled life, and it’s all thanks to AirBnb. Later in the day, we’ll be chauffeured into town by an Uber.

Technology; it’s a leveller, removing the barriers of social status, capital and even geographical location when it comes to access. I’m not just talking about having the run of a villa by the beach for a week. You can start an online business with almost no money down with a good idea and upend established industries. Information is no longer only for those who can afford to pay for experts and analysts. And with online courses, you can go to school anywhere in the world without having to get on a plane.

But even as we celebrate the equalising effect of technology, let us not forget those, the many, who do not have access to the Internet or can afford it. And that the gap between the haves and have-nots is still widening worldwide.

This equalising effect of technology can sometimes make us forget that the world is an unequal place. But that’s on us, not technology.