The bubbles

Not long ago, I spent an entire day going around New York City without my iPhone.


There’s nothing like being device- and newspaper-free on the NYC subway to realize how our devices are creating bubbles of separation in every public space we occupy.  And I think something’s getting lost there, something that has to do with the very fabric of society.  Yes, we’re all squeezed in to that subway car together, but we’re separate, and we certainly don’t have to look each other in the eye and recognize each other, see who each person is and think just a bit about their story and how it relates to ours.

Try this: take two trips on the subway or bus (or even an elevator) today without looking at or touching your device.  Just look around and notice the bubbles everyone has around them.

9 thoughts on “The bubbles

  1. These kids today with their new “Sony Walkmans” with their head-phones, and their p-book (paper-book) reading devices or e-newspapers (evening newspapers). Bubbles I tell you… 🙂

  2. So true!! When I first saw the movie Wall-E with the humans all on their separate transport devices watching and talking to each other via electronic connection even when they were right next to each other… so bizarre… I immediately said, “That’s where we’re headed! 10 years max!” George Takei recently posted an amazing idea on his Facebook page (although I don’t think the idea was his) – When you go to dinner with friends, everyone puts their device at the end of the table. The first who has to grab for it pays for dinner. Love this idea!

  3. I feel myself slowly reducing my phone usage as I begin to crave that true human connection.

  4. For the past three months I’ve been teaching English in a developing country, its the first time in years that I have no qualm about leaving my phone at home while I’m at work.

    It’s liberating.

  5. I’ve been practicing this when I’m at the grocery store. I leave my phone in my purse while I stand in line. It’s hard because the desire to reach into my purse and pull it out is strong. I’ve been surprised to notice that there are quite a few people who aren’t on their phones and are just calmly standing in line. Maybe one day, I’ll start a conversation with one of these people. For now, I’m just getting comfortable being out of my separation bubble.

  6. Recently I was on the train and had this moment of clarity: all the folks my age were in a digital device. The well-dressed older gentleman sitting at the very front of our car was snoozing. Someone’s cat was meowing pitiably in her carrier.

    And I thought, this has become the human race: ignoring the cries of nature while we plug into our distraction-devices. (Yes, I’m a dramatic Romantic sometimes)

    Anyway, Sasha, thanks again for continuing to write great articles week in and month out. I always appreciate reading your slice of experience and just wanted to stop by today to thank you. It keeps me motivated to know that you and your organization are continuing to do such good work.

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