I’m wracking my brain at this second to bring forth anything that isn’t bitching about work, because it wouldn’t be the first or last time. Also nobody wants to hear that. Today’s entry is gonna pull on the true nature of stream of consciousness in the hopes that the flow will steer me towards something more productive, provocative or produce. Do we need fruit and veggies at home?
I’m on the train and everyone is on their phones. Naturally. It feels so commonplace for people to grumble about a generation glued to their phones, but this has always felt a little odd to me. It’s not like everything a phone does is a waste of time. I’m sure some passengers are playing games, scrolling through Instagram or visiting a Tumblr that posts nothing but the same picture of Dave Coulier every day. That’s fine, right? Strangers can use their time as they see fit. What gives us the right to police or judge that? I often hear the argument that it creates a barrier between you and others. Isn’t that the point? How is it not justifiable that when you’re en route from location A to B that you’d rather be in your head than engaging with others? Social energy isn’t a limitless resource for everyone. What if you spend your days dealing with entitled pricks or judgemental bigots and just want to escape into a world where you can mindlessly crush candy/jelly/soda with a cutesy soundtrack and imagery? Also what is this supposed alternative to intentional isolation? Should we all be engaging in meaningful dialogue with random bystanders? I do that every so often and occasionally it results in people asking if they can light my beard on fire. Is that the goal? I mean, I’ve certainly had interesting conversations but not always fulfilling. It’s not communication we’re being spurred towards by putting down the phone, is there some other purpose? Or is it for the sake of some outmoded notion of manners? Being polite to others by not intentionally ignoring them? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure travelers have been sucked away into fantasy worlds for many years now. Discmans? Gameboys? Crossword puzzles? Books? Pencils and paper? We’ve long sought distraction from the time transit takes. At what age did passengers on public transportation amuse themselves with polite conversation or a simple admiration of their surroundings? Most likely longer ago than anyone complaining about excessive phone use has been alive.
Then again, this is all straw man supposition about whispers I may have heard on the wind. I can’t cite specific examples of times I’ve heard people complain about this behaviour. I’m pretty sure it happens on the regular, but I’ve got no way to log it in APA style. I’m not even saying there’s no issue with how often we’re absorbed by our screens. As a heavy user (I mean, right now for instance), I often feel like there are many occasions in which I could be more present. Are there people who I’ve missed meeting because I’ve been too engaged in gifs of kids falling over or videos of shiba inu underscored by the intro of The Smith’s’ “This Charming Man”? On the other hand, I could be learning about world news or local events. I could be engaging in meaningful online dialogue or connecting with friends. I could even be writing about rampant smart phone use on my phone itself.
I don’t think there’s a point to any of this little treatise, if but to say that like Transformers there’s often a lot more going on in any scenario than meets the eye. We’re all multi-faceted beings that are all too quick to judge others for their actions while excusing our own. It’s easy enough to show self-compassion, but empathy is all too rare. Maybe next time you’re throwing a stranger some stink eye, think about the best case scenario of their intentions instead of instantly labelling them as a buttmunch. Or don’t, I’m not your dad.