Waiting for the train to arrive after work, a loud automated voice rang through the station with an urgent announcement, pertaining to the recent anti-terrorism efforts happening throughout Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Attention: Police are targeting anti-social behaviour. Be on the lookout for those expressing such behaviour.
Then, I proceeded to look around the crowded station, and according to the announcement, I should’ve rang the police for a multitude of offenses.
Every single person opposite the tracks had their heads buried into the screen of their phones with headphones stuck in their ears. Every. Single. Person. Scrolling and scouring through their emails, social networks and texts. No acknowledgement of other humans around them.
I laughed. I mean, the police have to be a little more specific then anti-social. Hell, friends can’t even go out to dinner without a few phones out, let alone strangers acknowledging each other’s presence on a train.
I’ve noticed whenever I wait for the train – or really wait to do anything – I get this twinge where I feel the need to get onto my phone. That is what I like to call total dependence. And what I’ve always tried to avoid. And since I take a bus and a train to and from work every day, there are plenty of moments where I feel this need.
There’s very few times in the day where you can imagine or daydream – unless you work in some sort of creative capacity. Now, instead of needing to pull out the phone and bury our noses into the abyss of social media, why don’t we use those precious and invaluable moments of downtime to create – innovative ideas , new ways of solving your problems, plans for a holiday, goals for the future.
When I start to feel the need to use my phone while I wait for the always late 209 -the worst of the worst in bus history – I utilise those precious minutes to kickstart my entrepreneurial spirit. I think of ways I can create new solutions to solve the complaints of every day products. I dream of the day I own my own agency and what I would call it. I come up with all sorts of different apps. These are always related to travel in some way.
If I’m not feeling my “start-up” senses kicking in, I try to tap into my creative writing juices. I literally just start rambling in my head the next blog I want to post – and run with it. Word for word, in my tone of voice, I write an entire blog post. Whether I remember it or not isn’t necessarily important, although it would be optimal and my writer’s block tends to regret it later on. It’s more about creating, innovating, imagining. Keeping your brain constantly evolving, as opposed to filling it with junk.
If you’re an artist, imagine who or what you may paint/draw next. If you’re a photographer, map out the best area of lighting to capture the moment. If you’re an engineer, marketer, leader, traveler, xyz: fill in the blank. Do what you need to do to stay sharp.
And if all else fails, keep a book with you at all times. So in the instance of not wanting to utilise that time to be creative, you’re at least expanding your knowledge base and vocabulary. And you look a hell of a lot smarter than you do with you back hunched over your cell. I’ve been able to get through Richard Branson’s latest book by picking up my book instead of my phone.
Then, there’s always the opportunity to strike up a conversation with a stranger. You never know what could come from it. A potential job, a potential love, a potential friend – or just a good old fashioned conversation, an exchange of thoughts.
When you travel and don’t have WiFi or a phone, you’re hungry for new conversations and new friends. Why does that have to change when we’re settled back at home? Let’s keep that hunger for human interaction alive – and not “social” interaction online, but person-to-person interaction, building relationships, building a life.