Thursday, November 13, 2014

an absence of eloquence

Today I forgot my phone. Once I had emailed Mum and The Husband to let them know and dissuade any worries if I didn't respond to the usual morning text it really wasn't a concern. I was surprised how often I went to check it, what a reflex action it has become for me to reach for the reassurance of a text or an email. I don't particularly use my phone during the working day but I realised I must check for updates on an alarmingly frequent basis. I actually turned off automatic alerts a while ago, so that I wouldn't be distracted from a task by the flash of the screen. Instead it seems I distract myself by manually updating my mobile instead. I don't have any drawers at my desk (the side effects of hot desking) but I am tempted to try leaving my phone out of sight to try and break the habit.

During the day, other than the sense of my subconscious routine having been disrupted, I wasn't at all disconcerted about the lack of a phone. As long as my family knew I was ok and I was sure it was at home rather than lost I was unconcerned. On the commute though, was a different matter. This morning I barely noticed, generally in the morning I am still bleary eyed and trying to stay upright on a crowded, hot train. I regularly close my eyes and count the minutes - too penned in to attempt to rummage around for entertainment in the bottom of my bag. Travelling home I luxuriated in the rare treat of a seat, a delight except for the complete and utter bewilderment I felt as I looked around the carriage.

Row after row of plugged in people. Fingers frantically flicking, eyes skimming screen after screen of information, whilst wires protruded from ears completing the circuit between man and machine. Phones, tablets, e-readers, sitting, standing, leaning on a bike. One person I could see was reading a newspaper but everyone else in my line of sight was simply the crown of a head, face buried into technology.

I actually felt odd, like I was the unusual one. Another day recently some older ladies got on the rush hour train and were right next to me. It became apparent from what they said that they had just been to the theatre and I asked what they had seen. We chatted on and off during the twenty minutes of my journey about different shows. It was perfectly pleasant and I got off the train with a smile, we wished each other a safe journey, and it struck me what a shame it was that it felt unusual to have done that. I could see people around looking as we spoke, bemused that strangers would strike up a conversation and find something in common.

I'm not a technophobe by any means and would still sooner carry my phone than not. I just think the art of conversation is slowly dying, social media is making us ever less sociable and we are so busy downloading data into our brains that we forget to look up or speak out. It is nothing new or original but today I really did sense it so starkly as I saw how dehumanised we appeared as a collective mass, connected to electronics and disconnected from each other. The irony is not lost on me that I am writing this on my phone whilst The Husband, who I haven't seen properly in days is sat next me, and I am tutting as he tries to chat because I want to get this finished. So I will finish. 


  1. I agree with this wholeheartedly Katie. Our attachment to technology is frightening in some ways. Freeing too, of course, as it opens up the world, but can close our eyes to who is next to is too.

    1. yes it is like so much I suppose, better in moderation! thank you for commenting Penny, hope you are well.