Chetan Bhagat talks about social media, mobile addiction, crypto & all things tech #400Days

by October 29, 2021 0 comments

PCQuest caught up with India’s No. 1 best-selling author Chetan Bhagat on Zoom and had a free-wheeling discussion about technology, the dangers of social media, mobile addiction in the backdrop of the launch of his tenth novel and third in the Detective Keshav series: 400 Days. Some excerpts from the video interview…

On the Internet, his book 400 Days and the issues covered in it…

This book has a message: Are our children safe? We will not let our child speak to a stranger in the park or from the balcony. We won’t let that happen… but every child today can be approached by almost anyone on the Internet.

We only know that anyone used to give a lollipop and take children away. That’s a very old way of thinking. Today the lollipop can be an emoji or a video game… Who’s talking to you? It’s very easy to hide behind fake accounts. If your child is on Instagram, that’s a very legitimate app. Anybody can DM (direct message).

On the continued presence of technology in his latest detective novel 400 Days and in our lives…

Crimes are committed with the help of technology. Crimes are solved with the help of technology. And the way we interact with each other… How a family is shamed and things like that on the Internet are done via technology. Technology has become a power and people are using it in different ways. Good ways. Bad ways. It’s pervasive. It’s part of our lives.

On the burning issue of mobile addiction in today’s age…

We all have two kilos of sugar lying around in our house right now. It feels good to have it. But we don’t just go in the kitchen and keep having sugar. Because we know this is not good for us. It happened from awareness. It happened from trial. It happened from actually eating a lot of sugar and realizing it is not good.

Same thing needs to happen here (mobile addiction). We are not seeing it as bad as sugar. We are seeing it as some marvelous thing… You are getting dopamine from the phone. It’s serious. It can only come from awareness… It is amazing but dangerous like sugar.

We are using the same phone to fight on social media and watch silly videos and it’s bad. It’s bad for your kids, but it’s also bad for grown-ups.

On the mobile and other gadgets being an integral part of our lives…

They are literally part of us… (the mobile) is a part of me, just not biologically attached to me. If this is not there, I don’t exist. One day Neuralink is all going to be embedded in our heads. But it can also consume you. The sense of self has to be kept. You have to start from the self and use the tech to improve yourself. If I let tech control me, then I’ll be watching video games all day. I will waste my entire life and the tech won’t care.

On the correct use of tech…

I use tech, but to help me, not become a slave to tech, which a lot of youngsters are becoming. You are destroying your life. It’s a disease only. In a disease you can’t function properly, but you can get out of it: You just say you’re not going to do it all the time.

On tech and business changes as a result of the Covid Era…

We all have to learn to adapt. Whether you like it or not, every business has to have an online strategy. Tech has in fact increased. Covid has been great for tech. It’s been amazing for tech. Only the people who have had some tech presence or some kind of strategy have survived. Some have done better.

For me, I’ve been able to launch this book (400 Days) sitting in Singapore, the No. 1 best-seller in India, without doing even one launch. It’s all being done on my social media, all media interactions are being done on Zoom… If I didn’t have social media, it wouldn’t have been possible. The book is being sold on Amazon and Flipkart.

It’s quite a strange world we are living in, and I think that will be every business going forward.

On his books being read in the age of digital entertainment…

It baffles me. I feel very fortunate, because today even though I have a brand name, to make people pick up and read a book is certainly difficult. My competition is not other books. It is the tech. It is all the digital entertainment that is cheap… that is always available on your device.

On the latest fad of cryptocurrencies…

I think crypto is fascinating, but it’s not a proper investment… I’ve been investing for 23 years. I have seen cycles. I’ve seen ups and downs. There’s a lot of interest in crypto and it keeps going up because of that. But one day it won’t. I don’t know when that day will be. Sometimes people just love something. But how long and how much?

It’s not how investments work in my book. I don’t like it… as an investment. As a concept, as a theory, as a fun thing, it’s great. But I’m really nervous when heavy marketing happens on crypto. It’s like tulips. It did happen. People now wonder what happened?

(Note: We ended the interview with a brand association exercise.)

What’s the first word or thing that comes to your mind when you say…

Facebook… Confusing.

WhatsApp… Amazing.

Instagram… Fun.

Telegram… Sketchy.

Twitter… Crazy.

TikTok… Why?

LinkedIn… Good, but thankfully I don’t have to be in that anymore.

Reddit… It’s a bit silly… for me.

4Chan… Don’t know… at all… what it is.

YouTube… Amazing. YouTube is my favourite.

Check out the complete interview…

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