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18/07/12 at 14:15 — edited 21/07/12 at 11:35
Mid-Summer. The season where train upon train is flocked with students, who venture back to their scattered hometowns to relish the vacation from University labour.
I myself sadly won't be taking those tedious 5 hours from Truro to London for a long time as I am now a graduate. I came back from University at the end of June, and despite the mild breeze and sunshine that welcomed my return, I was also greeted with the cloned expressions of boredom on people’s faces as I entered Paddington station. Something then happened to me on the tube which had me come to the realization of a kind of intimacy that, in my opinion doesn't really happen any more - or isn't seen as much.
Oblivious and disorientated from dead pan reality surrounding me, I stare vacantly ahead on the escalator with my overloaded luggage.
"Ah you play guitar!" chirps a friendly voice. I turn behind to see a girl a couple of years older than me beaming. Not prepared for a conversation I am somewhat sceptical of this.
"Erm, yes. It's an electric," is my pathetic reply -and it all hits off from there! All the way to Piccadilly Circus, I find myself in a glowing bubble with this girl as we chat amongst the grey dreariness of suits, their faces sucked into The Daily Mail and The Times. I find out she is from Sydney visiting her sister and was trying to find a decent place in the city that was worth a night out. We discuss gap years, swap music tastes, talk books - and we then pull into Piccadilly and part our ways. For just fifteen minutes we had brightened those grey walls.
That night I sit up in my room watching one of my favourite films of the 60’s ‘Up the Junction’, which historically depicts working class life in 60's London. From watching the throwings and friendly interactions between the characters, it got me to thinking of the conversation I had on the tube. It then occurred to me; does anyone notice that before the days of mobile phones, ipods and Facebook, people seemed to speak to each other more, even if they didn't know each other? As ‘Up the Junction’ progresses, London is portrayed more and more to be thriving with conversation and a welcoming atmosphere. Nowadays, a large number of us seem to be plugged into some sort of electronic device whether it be an, ipod, ipad or blackberry.
One might say that I am being hypocritical as I social network and text and email. In 2011, I put together a performance project that aimed to encourage letter writing. As a form of advertising, I engaged conversations with different members of the public. In doing this I had made intimate friendships and was able to get my message out with success. What happened to me on the train has bought back this memory, once again motivating me to make more of an effort in making conversation with others in the future.
Are we gradually losing the intimacy of verbal discussion and debate? Are we beginning to lose this through our dependence of online communication? In some mad science fiction future dystopia, will we all lose the ability to make eye contact, gage a smile or freely converse or will the machines have taken over?
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