Did people talk to each other on public transportation before mobile devices?
I’m working downtown for my new job and it’s easiest to take the train. Everyday I become more fascinated by how so many individuals can be in one location and nobody talks to each other. Nobody even makes eye contact. Most people are on their phones, texting, listening to music, checking emails, reading. Clearly, many are connecting with other people- just none of the other humans near them. It’s such a weird concept- kind of like being on an elevator – to be sharing, many times, super personal space with another individual but make no connection. Why is that? I’m totally guilty as I listen to my music and people watch. I probably would text or email or go on social media if I could but I’d crush my data in a day so I don’t. As I people watch, it’s interesting to see everyone’s moods, expressions, attitudes. Hundreds of people packing into a single object like a can of sardines most likely to do the same thing- go to work or to go home from work- but rarely is an acknowledgement made.
Even though the vast majority of us are riding the train for the same reason, it’s different than when we go on the train to go to a Celtics game- those rides, there’s a clear sense of comeroddery- we act nice towards others because we know we’re rooting for the same team, we’re doing the same thing- we must be “like each other.” But aren’t we all like each other when we’re going to work too? Just trying to make a few bucks to help put food on the table, a roof over our heads, pay for cable, save up for that vacation, to spoil our pets.
Since I’m taking the train twice a day now, every time I get on, I think about this concept and it’s been kind of bumming me out. But then I was walking to Sullivan Station one morning and I notice some new graffiti below the underpass.
And there it is. I’m not the only one feeling the disconnect with one another. Whoever this person is, they feel it too.
I’m not sure how long Somerville authorities will keep this one up, but I hope they do for a little while- it made me think. I think it’ll make others think.
We may not know each other but we all need one another. I’m going to remember this before I make eye contact with someone on the train and quickly look away… maybe tomorrow, I take the time to smile. Who knows, that person could use a smile.