The Social Solitaire

How do we got from here to there?

Some people walk, some drive cars, some ride bikes, some, like me, take buses

Bus, a means of transportation, a public transportation, more precisely. This is a mode of mass transportation that I use here in Canberra, or even back then in Indonesia. Although, the buses here are ten times better than those in Indonesia. Cleaner, more punctual, safer, and more comfortable.

It is times that I spend getting on the bus, sitting alone especially by window, looking outside, watching the road, people and things, passing by when I usually contemplate on my days and my life in general. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without my favorite songs played like soundtrack of a movie; like I am in sort 0f clip with glimpses of my past appearing and dissolving.

But it is that very damn songs that I would curse today (I have to curse at least one thing in a day, otherwise I can't sleep). So, what makes me get agitated by these songs in our iPods??

Because it eases solitary, it creates distance, it alienates us from the rest of passengers in the bus!! Each of us, lonely passenger get on the bus, greet the driver (hi, how's it going? good thanks), take the most comfortable seat where no one sits next to us, put our baggage beside us so that no one will try to sit next to us, plug in those two tiny speakers into our ears, and ignore the rest of the bus. I say we since it's not only me, but most of the passengers.

I imagine, like 100 years ago, there was no public transportation. Every one of us, at least every family might have had their own horses or carts, or whatever. How about poor families? I reckon either they had to walk, or they had to ask for rich neighbour's favour to pick them up, to drop them off, preferably those who are going to roughly the same direction. They must've know each other so during the journey, they were most likely to talk to each other. You know, who will get married, how's your grandson, that the priest had an affair, etc. They didn't mind talking, maybe because they had not invented iPod back then, or even Sony Walkman. They had to talk, to make the journey bearable.

However, as people get smarter, get more fragmented and things are commodified, we invented our own talking friend, our own comfort in the journey. Cell phones, books, iPods.

If bus is going to take us through the same journey, even the same destination, why would we not want to know who are those people taking the same path. Hey, you're listening to music too, maybe we're actually listening to the same singer? Do you like Jamie Cullum? Or maybe, we've been to the same place? Have you been to Tokyo? Or maybe, we want to do the same things in the future? Sky diving, anyone? Or maybe, we just had a crappy trashy day? Ah, same here!

But no, instead of changing our seat to sit next to our fellow passenger, we change our mp3. Instead of listening to their stories, we raise our mp3 volumes. Instead of talking to them, we sing to our songs (worse, we just do lypsinc). Sometimes, it really looks pathetic!!

How do we got from there to here?

We are human, we are wired to interact, we can't stand silence for too long, we need sound!! But we are also built to seek control, to manipulate environment for our own satisfaction. That's why, we find that sound from other human being are, most of the times, annoying (probably because they just talk about themselves, silly stuff, inessential and insignificant). We are not able to know what kind of 'music' will we hear from them in advance. Not like iPod where you can customize 'your talking friends' and skip, delete, remove some of the songs when we feel they don't serve our interest. With human, we can't really control their voices, the volumes, the pitch, the pace. We can't mute them whenever we are tired of them, we can't fast forward or rewind, we can't skip, we can't stop them as we like. Hence, the iPod and those two tiny wicked speakers.

And we call it civilization. well, well....


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