Alone in the wired world

Sitting on the Number 8 tram on Melbourne’s St. Kilda Road certainly is an interesting experience. Trams catch the mood and feel of Melbourne like no ther form of transport. They amble down the middle of the street they are amongst the traffic, yet they are not a car or a bus. They are not just a tool of commuting but of travel, so are uniquely placed for the observation of humanity in its day to day endeavours.

Staring about as I often do I am amazed at the faces and manner of my fellow passengers. Most stare blankly, mutely, forward looking into space looking into nothing. I often wonder why? Maybe a hard day at work? But at 1.00 o’clock on a Friday afternoon!

Those who are animated talk loudly, annoyingly, down mobile phone’s, or tap away on laptops, or nod their chin slightly to a vaguely audible sound I can hear on from headphone’s. Am missing something, anything?

I think they are.

They are traveling on perhaps the best vehicle yet invented to see the sights, sounds, and going ons of a beautiful city. They are travelling with some of the most interesting people your ever likely to meet… normal people. I find it ironic that those with there heads buried in lifestyle and society magazines are missing the great drama that is going on all around them.

I guess I’m unusual I often start conversations on the tram, but I guess I find it surprising that others don’t. Over the past few weeks I’ve met American bomb specialists in town for a conference, a history professor who splits his time equally between Germany and Australia, a young South African about to be married to an Australian, a medical student on her way to a night out with friends, and many others. All interesting people with a story to tell. All you have to do is ask.

One thing that has always struck me about all those people shouting down phones, tapping on palm pilots, and listening to walkman’s is what they are missing out on. They are all focused on getting to where they are going a minimising the time spent in between. They forget that the journey, what they are doing there and then is important, its not the destination, its the journey.

What motivates people to think like that, I don’t know. Maybe its a distrust of others, such behaviour is certainly more common in big cities. Maybe its the self obsessed nature of so many people today. Again it hard to tell, I’m certainly not immune to navel gazing, yet retain an interests in others. Who knows whatever it is, it seems the more we are connected by electronics and the like with our friends and acquaintances, the more we are cut off from our fellow man.

Can it be cured it seems not. Today we are more inclined to talk to dogs and babies on the street than strangers. Dogs and babies don’t talk back. Indeed in Los Angeles recently the highest reward money posted was for the arrest of a man who threw a dog in front of a car in an incident of road rage. It seems society really has screwed priorities.

I don’t know if I’m different maybe its because I’m from the country, maybe I’m naturally friendly. Whatever it is I believe being friendly is one of the most important things to be, Anyway, whatever the reason I hope I’m never the one staring blankly forward into space or talking annoyingly on the mobile phone on the number 8 tram in Melbourne

Author: Peter Shaw

Is the founder and president of Princes Park Touch and the leader of the LocalHero project!

Fill in your details below or login