Lucy noticed how many people at the train station the other day were looking at their phones. She only noticed because she’d just put hers in her bag.
As I waited for my train, I looked across the tracks to the platform on the other side. There was a row of twelve seats, all occupied. I counted the number of people on them who were looking at their phones. Seven. And two of the others looked like they’d fallen asleep. Which left just three others looking up, like me. I wondered what they were thinking. I enjoyed a film recently in which a young man was able to relive each day. He’d go through the day in the usual way, with most of it passing him by, and then go back and relive it again, noticing everything he could about it. Returning the coffee shop assistant’s smile, celebrating the small stuff, finding kind things to do for other people. In time, he became so used to doing this that he didn’t need to relive the day; he just did it instinctively.
That can’t be done unless we engage with what’s around us: the people, scenery and what’s happening. I’m surprised when I go to the gym to see people texting while on the exercise bikes. Put it down! Concentrate on your pedalling! It’s not just technology that’s to blame for this. I was at a restaurant recently and actually saw a couple each get out their books to read between courses. They both seemed happy with the arrangement but it struck me as a wasted opportunity to have a chinwag without the distractions of home.
When I’m with someone, I want to feel I’m with them, not competing with the tantalising urge to see who’s sent an email or text in the last five minutes. I feel a little sad that seven of those people at the train station were connected to a world that wasn’t the one in front of them. I get that there’s so much to discover online on a daily basis, but it can’t be the same as seeing the stuff that happens as you go about your day.
I think I’m going to try hard to make sure my face isn’t in my phone more than it needs to be. I’m going to take a look round and notice things. I know there’s not very much of interest on a train platform, but I enjoyed a bit of people-watching for a while. There’s naught as fascinating as folk!