𝗥𝗲𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗻 𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗪𝗲 𝗛𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲𝘀
We are all stuck indoors at the moment protecting the NHS as the Coronovirus hits the UK. No doubt we are knee deep in video-conferencing, telephoning, online grouping and social DM-Ing. But is it also time to re-think how we live when it is all over?
This photo won the Smithsonian Photo Competition in 2016. I was travelling across London with my camera just minding my own business. As I looked across at the other side of the platform at Baker Street, I saw a collection of people engrossed in their mobile phones.
Each person was positioned in the archway of one of the platform booths with light filtering down from above. Almost as if each person was entirely separate from each other, despite being located on the same platform at the same time.
Thinking that I would have to take a series of images and merge them to get one person in each archway I waited for a few moments.
As the very next train pulled away it revealled the image you see. Each archway was occupied, and even better there were other types of communication going on. Reading a book, a newspaper and even talking on the telephone. A one in a million urban landscape with a meaning.
All of these characters are communicating. But not with each other.
Time To eflect
Being on lockdown gives us the time to reconsider how we communicate. We have had face-to-face communication withdrawn from us for the time being. Everything is virtual.
But when we all resurface from the virus, and start back into ‘normal’ life again will we take for granted that which has been taken from us?
No doubt there will be a call for more remote working and more virtual communication. But are we losing a huge part of what makes us who we are?
Already we have become surgically attached to our mobile phones. We go straight to worry when our loved ones do not pick up when we ring, or respond to a text or What's App message. There was a time when a pay phone was the only way of ringing while out and about! The default was not worry - it was trust and confidence.
There are great advantages to virtual communication - but it can so easily bypass the myriad of nuances of human to human communication. We are not robots or computers - we are essentially social and have been designed to interact socially.
Let us guard against neglecting some of the simple joys in life: actually meeting people, talking face-to-face, shaking hands and even a friendly hug.
So, when all of this is over, will we remain in our own virtual world, maybe communicating across the globe, yet not even speaking to the person sitting right by us? Always and yet never really connected.