𝗥𝗲𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗻 𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗪𝗲 𝗛𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲𝘀
𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘤𝘬 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘏𝘚 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘶𝘴 𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘜𝘒. 𝘕𝘰 𝘥𝘰𝘶𝘣𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘬𝘯𝘦𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘪𝘯 𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘰-𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘐𝘔-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 𝗥𝗲𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁
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 We have had face-to-face communication withdrawn from us for the time being.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.