This summer I have been taking two classes to prepare for my master's program. One of these classes, nutrition, is online. However the other, a chemistry prep class, is in person and thus requires me to take a 15 minute bus ride each way to class. These bus rides have led me to experience the wonders of technology but also ponder how it could be hindering us.
While I ride the bus I
Hardly anyone on my rides engages in conversation with another human on the bus. Those that do are normally a) riding with someone they already know b) making a polite comment that doesn't develop into any sort of conversation or c) talking to another person but not in a way that is deemed socially acceptable.
As I have observed this behavior for these past weeks I have begun to think about how many connections are possibly being missed. In the past I have always heard about people meeting on the bus and falling in love, or finding a life long friend, or just making an acquaintance to sit next to every day. In fact my parents have such a story; over twenty years ago they met one of their closest friends on the bus.
However, I have realized that these connections seem to be forgotten. Smart phones with social media and countless games, texting so as never to miss what's happening anywhere but here and now, or the latest from that hot new artist have become the norm.
|How I Met Your Mother just sums it up so beautifully!|
As I sit with my earbuds in, of course realizing the irony of my situation, I wonder what it would be like to actually engage the man or woman sitting next to me. How would they respond to such an encounter? What might I learn about them or the world if we got to talking? Would my life drastically change in some way?
When I look up, thinking that maybe I will just talk to the person next to me, I am faced with replicas of myself, engaging in the same antisocial behavior. It seems that whatever is coming through the earbuds, or happening on social media, or that game of bejeweled, has taken over a situation once ripe with social potential, making it one where greeting someone with "Hello" and "How are you today" would be seen as abnormal.
However, what do I really know? I have yet to be bold enough to actually greet the person next to me, or attempt to engage them in a conversation. And while I have pondered all these issues, every morning as I put my earbuds in, it seems I have again forgotten the connections that could be made.
Have you noticed similar instances in your life? Are there times that would be different if that smart phone or ipod wasn't in your hand?
Writing this I have of course thought about not listening to my ipod every morning and maybe actually engaging someone, but this is something I have yet to do.
So I challenge myself, and you if you're game, to try it, to try riding the bus without headphones or with the phone put away. I think I can commit to trying it once! What about you?