I like to play a game on the subway where I look around and try to find someone not on their phone. I like seeing a person reading a book, or, in an ultimate win, someone staring into space without headphones. It’s a rare find.
These check-ins remind me that we, as a society, rely on our phones to distract and entertain us. Yet still, even as a hyper-aware person, I can’t even force myself to get off my own iPhone while riding the train. I try, but always think of something I have to do immediately: reply to an email, respond to my friend’s text, double-check a date in my calendar, read an article, adjust my music. Apparently everyone has something to do, too. In the 10 years since the iPhone debuted, it’s slowly eaten our personal space. Few places exist without cell service or Wi-Fi. We’re connected in locations that once seemed far removed from the busyness of the world, like on subways, airplanes, and cruise ships. NASA even sent iPhones into space.
I groaned when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that all New York City subway stations would get Wi-Fi and cell connectivity this year. The subway once served as my retreat away from the phone. Nearly seven months after that service expansion, the system isn’t completely canvassed. I notice that people look up in between stations, where service remains spotty. Still, the MTA is actively trying to get those tiny unconnected chunks to disappear. Everywhere is slowly connecting.
After a decade of unstopped…
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