Interning with Go Girls! has been a blessing for me in a number of ways (working with an amazing company with a mission I stand behind firmly, endlessly supportive staff, being able to watch with company as it grows organically). But one benefit I overlooked was that it offered me a semester free of commuting into and out of Manhattan two or three days a week.
But this past weekend I decided to make use of public transportation to get from my university in Long Island to my house near Albany, NY. And while on trains and buses, I got to engage (a tiny bit) in the public transportation experience I used to love so much.
The best part, I think, is being able to watch families, couples, friends, and strangers interact. A person’s true colors are really exposed when they miss their connecting train or can’t get a seat next to a power outlet. But it makes you think about what things were like when we weren’t all connected to our phones and tablets. We couldn’t make quick business calls much to the despair of mothers with sleeping babies sitting two rows over. Our parents couldn’t check in every half hour to make sure things were going okay. Travel just happened, disjointed from the rest of the world, until you made it home and could get on your landline to check back in.
Last year at about this time, I had my phone stolen while eating at a cafe in Italy. I had never felt so panicked and violated in my life. I had to disconnect my cell service, and remotely lock phone, and I didn’t even know what to do after that. How would I begin to tell my parents that my passwords, my photos, and my main connection to the world at home were all in the hands of a toothless man trying to sell me a pair of pants?
But then being phone-less started to be kind of fun. I could still text my parents and friends from my computer if I needed to, and the world starts to look more beautiful when you don’t have a camera with you, but the disconnect from Facebook pings and Snapchat’s and the ability to mindlessly scroll through Twitter before class started to feel really freeing.
And I wish I could say that my experience changed everything about me and that I never use my phone anymore and that I replaced it with some old cell phone with a qwerty keyboard, but I am weak to innovation and things that allow me to pass the time while traveling.
But just remember that once, none of these apps existed. None of these websites existed. You called your friends on the phone, and sometimes left a message because your friend was not home and you couldn’t just check Find My Friends to see where they were. We’re living in the Wild West of technology development, so find a trusty steed, play it safe, and look up from your phone once in a while. It’s worth it.