03 August 2012

Plugged In

A few weeks ago, I was in New York City. I rode public transportation a lot, so I spent much time in the subways. I noticed that several people were practically invading each other's personal space, and yet they still manage to enclose themselves and act as if they were in a bubble.

Most of the time, they're reading, some are playing games in their smartphones, and obviously, some are plugged in with their headphones listening to music. It's interesting how technology allows one to create a virtual private space, such that even in a cramped subway car, one can still be in relative solitude.

Normally, I would mind these artificially-created solo moments. I just find it very impersonal. This is me who normally prefers real humans to automated tellers and self-checkouts in society. However, sometimes, I feel that it is more of a survival defense mechanism that people create these virtual solo spaces.

Most of the time, I think of this in the context of the buskers that ride the metro. I have seen performances of the same person in the train, one at the outbound, and another when I was coming back. I feel a little uncomfortable watching these performances, as it is, I am forced to watch these, and I am pretty much a captive audience. I am forced to hear their loud salsa music even though I didn't choose to listen to it. Hence, I can see how people would want to just keep the outside noise out by creating this virtual space that only they can enjoy.

But then again, I'd rather have these buskers do what they are doing right now, than simply begging for spare change. If this is their idea of work, then so be it.

See, I still have a love-hate relationship with New York City.

(Dark Portrait of Animal and Human, from my Museum of Modern Art Series)


  1. There were times when I had to actually remove my earphones and listen to a really talented busker - just the other day, I had to listen to a cellist!

    1. TNP,

      Wow, I haven't seen that before! I always see the usual Mexican band, or the breakdancing group. There's also the drum sets, but no cellists!