Smart phones but dumb people


I met my boyfriend on the tube, traveling home from a gig. It’s a good story, mainly because it’s ours, but not an uncommon one. I’m quite surprised by how often someone I tell our story to then tells me they know a couple who met on the tube or at a station.

Nearly forty years ago my Mum had her hen do with a bunch of friends she’d made on her morning commute. I’m not sure if she sees them anymore – how many friendships are able to stand several decades, a few house moves and 2 children? – but I’m surprised that she had been able to strike up a friendship with people she met on the train into work.

A few years ago I and my flatmate used to occasionally catch the same overground train into London Bridge together. She worked in Soho for a company where it was expected  she have her Blackberry on by half seven and be in the office well before 9. I worked for an environmental charity where the building was rarely open before 9.30 and the only person in our office who wore a suit was a self-confessed Tory (now candidate). We would chatter away with little regard for what peace might have been sought by our fellow commuters. I’m surprised we were so often the only ones.

Today I travel in to work alone and in ten months of my new journey I don’t think I’ve seen people chatting on my train once, whether getting on together or convening in situ. And I’m surprised I haven’t tried either.

I ran across this video today on my social timeline. It’s the second piece of YouTube poetry I’ve seen in the last month which has made me stop, think and pass on. But the message here is that isn’t enough, that it’s taking life offline that makes it worth living.

I’m not sure that my particular train into work is ready for me to start engaging in conversation, but perhaps someone else will have watched Look Up, and maybe we’ll see that in each other’s eyes tomorrow morning and talk about it. Who knows?


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