Do you remember those old science fiction movies where alien forces took over the minds of people? They all became zombie-like and moved around like robots as programmed by the mind altering whatsits. Now I have never been a great fan of science fiction, I admit. I loved Star Trek but that is not quite what I am referring to.
Well, when I went to meet my friends, I happened to be using both trains and the tube. The underground railway, that is. And so help me, it felt as if I had been deposited in the middle of one of those movie sets from way back when. You could clearly pop people into one of 2 categories, largely, but not entirely delineated by age. The older ones had papers or books in hand for the journey. Or crossword puzzles, sudoku etc. The younger ones were attached to white wires, leading directly to what seemed to be their brains. I think.
They had vacant eyes, focusing on something I could not see or hear. They stared straight ahead, unless they had to make little adjustments to their little machines in their pockets, they moved on and off the tube without looking left or right, at speed. Never making eye contact. (Everyone seems to move at warp speed in the big city. Except me.)
It is entirely possible that they were listening to Wuthering Heights, of course. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this at all. So help me, I could become one of them too. But the contrast was so striking that I actually reached into my bag and started making notes. It seemed for a moment as though science fiction had become 2010 fact.
Some of the older plus 50 people were looking around at the rows of younger ones all plugged in, and I am sure they were remembering the times when riding on the tube used to be interesting for people watchers. You could see different books being read. Have the occasional conversation, smile, and be smiled at in return, read the back of papers......
I sound old, don't I. "Back in my times, we did..." There is no phone reception down there under the city. So music, or downloads must have been the order of the day. Music, mainly.
Then there was the train. I caught the 3.30pm train home, which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be classed as a commuter train. Yet nearly every person on the train was not only plugged into little white wires, but they also had their laptops/netbooks/iPads/kindles out as well. For those of us unplugged relics of an earlier age, there was the sound of hundreds of fingers hitting keys to accompany us on the trip. A different kind of rhythm.
The art of conversation is dying. Not that having a conversation on the train is necessarily what people want to do. But................. if I owned a laptop/netbook/iPad/iPhone, I suspect I would have been writing a post on the blog, to tell you about my day, now wouldn't I??
As white (as in A is for ap--- ) seems to rule when it comes to little wires, I have to ask why they don't launch a range of fashionable accessories for the wires. Earrings seem to be obscured by the earpieces, after all. Come on, Mr Jobs, there is another way to take over the world! Maybe they already have a range. But not on the tube last Thursday that I could see.
There has been a sudden ultra-fast change in the IT world, if I manage to stand still long enough to catch my breath and look around. Do you remember PCs? They are hard to find in some places, and then they seem to now be touch screen. The lap top rules. And then we have all things apple. The iPhones are ridiculously expensive here. Especially when you still have to pay a hefty monthly charge too. However, those who have them, of all ages, say they would never have anything else after getting one. And believe me, everyone on those trains or tubes seemed to have one. How nice they can all afford them!
David and I popped into an Apple store a while back and I tried to work out how to use the iPad. Is this the next thing to make the laptop obsolete? I am stuck back in the dark ages, people.
But I think of the rows of people with little white wires, and something in me is saddened. Sometimes, just a grin, or a meeting of eyes is nice, you know. Communicating wordlessly with a stranger. The blank stare? Not so much.