Busy On the TTC

I have recently survived two full weeks of university and on my way commuting to and from U of T, I have noticed something atrocious. Every time I enter the subway, I either read my book for biology class or if I have already done the readings, I will put on my headphones and listen to some music. But what I noticed during the times I read, was that the only noises around me were the footsteps of people walking in and out at each station and the voice of the woman who announces each station's name. Rarely does anyone ever talk around me.

What exactly is the reason behind society's lack of social life on the subway? Our answer: cellphones. Our “real” social life is all on our phones and laptops, where we use Facebook, SMS (short message service), Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Although most of us don’t even get signal when underground, we have adapted to the habit of constantly checking our phone for no reason at all. Since we are so used to being quiet and deep into our phones above ground, when underground we would rather listen to some songs instead of talking to a random stranger.

Just a few days ago when I got on the subway, it was during rush-hour therefore it was very crowded. I luckily found a seat near the doors, and since I was so exhausted from my classes, I didn’t have the energy to take out my headphones so I decided not to listen to any music for that day. A few stations later a senior woman entered the subway while dragging a big pot of flower on the ground along with a bouquet of flowers in her other hand. I got up and offered her my seat since it was pretty crowded and she seemed to be very tired. As I stood by the doors, a stranger close by told me out of the blue about how nice I was for giving up my seat. The idea of strangers talking to us is not the norm; we assume they are either a creep trying to stalk us or a lost foreign tourist. But he didn’t seem to be carrying a map or a gigantic camera, so definitely he wasn’t a tourist, and he definitely did not look like a creeper either. So, why was he talking to me? Why is it so weird to have a random stranger talk to us nowadays? We started to talk the rest of the way and although we were complete strangers we learned a lot of things about each other in only a few minutes. Not only were we amused, but the time passed by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was finally at my station.

It is that easy.

Our phones, our tablets, our headphones and our laptops, are all preventing us from having an actual social life, where we talk with actual human beings in person. Think about how exciting each subway ride would be when each time riding the subway you learned about different people’s lives, about where they are coming from and going to. It might seem silly at first, but think about how less dreadful these long rides on the TTC would be if we actually talked to the person beside us.