Hunchbacks of Our Time

When I commute to my various activities each day, all I see around me is everyone's eyes glued to their devices. I'm sure it's not happnening only here in Shanghai but in most countries and cities.

99% of train commuters are staring at their devices, people drive while looking at phones in their hands, scooter riders staring at their phones and people walking while staring at their phones. All this screentime while moving about in sometimes dangerous situations makes me cringe. It'll be very interesting to find out how many accidents occur on a daily basis due to 'not paying attention to what you're doing because you were staring at your phone'.

Can’t get enough.

Can’t get enough.

I was coincidently walking behind the girl above for about two blocks towards the subway station. She was staring at her phone the entire time without a clue as to what was happening around her, she crossed the road while still staring at her phone! If we would have been anywhere else but in Shanghai, with all the CCTV cameras, it would have been super simple to mug her and run off without her even reacting. I overtook her on the sidewalk as it was really annoying being stuck behind her lacklustre walking in narrow laneways. I then saw her come down the stairs at the subway station and immediately plopped herself down to stare at her phone some more. This moving with blinkers on evokes a sense of sadness in me to see how cut-off we poeple have become from one another and our surroundings.

The hunchback generation.

The hunchback generation.

I went to take a seat to wait for my friend and saw these three. They look like they’re asleep or something like that but no they were not asleep, they were just on their phones. Gone are the days of drumming up casual conversations with strangers or even just acknowledging the people in your vicinity. On more than the one occasion, I’ve noticed how people would not be able to describe the person sitting next to them other than it was a man or a woman. But to give a useful description of a person would be impossible for many.

I hope we are able to recognise how regressed this all is and make a real conscious effort to engage with those around us; even a little eye contact with a nod of acknowledgement would be a step forward (or backwards to the ‘good old days’).