(this is annie)

En train de...

It was the commute from hell: nearly an hour to travel three piddly miles from work to home. I knew I was in for it when I saw the train platform stuffed with people, most of whom had a half-hopeless, half-annoyed screen over their eyes. When the trains finally began coming into the station, they were already crowded. But we boarded, and some people even got seats. We tried to make the best of it.

The train crawled about 25 feet, then stopped. We waited. As the train stood still, the air became warm and stuffy. I was wedged into a corner, with only a few inches of space between me and the people around me. The stale air, lack of movement, and sensation of being trapped were highly unpleasant. Nobody looked happy.

Ten years ago, I might have turned to a fellow commuter and shared some sort of sympathetic small talk about the delay. I wanted to do that tonight, but the man next to me was listening to his iPod. The woman in front of me was listening to her iPhone. The long-haired goatee man was playing games on iPhone, the teenage girl was texting on her Sidekick, and over on the other end of the train, a woman had turned up her iPod loud enough that I heard jolene! joLEEN, joLEEN, jo! LEE-EE-EEEEN! through the earphones.

The train eventually shuddered forward, then stopped again, then started up, and so forth. Aside from the two coworkers talking about a new relationship ("She's great, but I'm waiting to see how she fights") the train was essentially void of conversation. It was typical of urban life, it was nothing unusual, and it was sad.

I recently got an iPhone through the boss man. Earlier today, I mentioned this, and someone made a comment that stuck: "You get one and it's like you create a little relationship with it." That is the problem, isn't it? We look at phones, not into people.

And yeah, I enjoy all of the things the iPhone can do (Angry Birds and Hipstamatic are so much fun) but I can't help but feel that we're losing a lot. Tonight I kept my phone in my bag during the hour-long commute and wondered what might have been.

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1 Responses to “En train de...”

  1. # Anonymous Owen

    I'll share two thoughts about this. I take public transportation to school every day, either in the form of DC's metro or UMD's great bus system.

    This happens more in the morning than at night, but if you get on the metro during rush hour, it will be completely full, and absolutely silent. I've been on trains where literally no one was talking, and I was happy to have headphones because the awkwardness of being in proximity to so many people and not hearing any conversation was overwhelming.

    The bus I take is typically full of grad students, because we're the only ones who can afford to live away from campus. There will occasionally be talking, but just today I looked around and counted 8 people from my seat staring at their phones. Not checking a text, but all apparently reading something off the tiny little screen. On the bus. Barf! I personally love the bus ride as it affords me 30 minutes where I can put on some music, close my eyes and cease the never ending reading I have to do.  

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