AntiSocial Being Very Social
23rd June, 2015


It wasn't as noisy as it used to be years ago because it wasn't as social like it is now. At least people would look into other people's eyes because that was the only version of smileys available; and if headphones were even needed at all the most, it should have been those times and not now when it hardly ever gets that noisy anymore.

Reminds me of my daily 'not-so-inspiring final school year' bus journeys to Government College Ikorodu back then in Lagos, Nigeria 1998/99. I and my "adventure-holics" (fun-drunk friends) would wait ages for buses to arrive. I wonder what we did in the non-existence of smartphones to occupy our adrenaline trouble-doting time while we waited. Our bags were usually very heavy because there were no cloud storage. But, thinking about it now, it mysteriously wasn't a bother then. Digital wristwatches, Discmans and solar Casio scientific calculators were the smartest gadgets we often had on us and we often flaunted our spelling skills on the calculators such as hELL - that was 7734 upside down or ShELL - 77345 upside down etc.

However, back to the journeys, they never felt sane and it seemed a norm and chaos was just another order and somehow somewhere, within that madness, was where the fun usually was. We wait ages for buses to arrive and then suddenly rush to get in and earnestly prayed our friends made it in. If they didn't, we didn't take our fury to Twitter to tweet about it nor on Facebook to voice opinions, we simply had a proper falling out there and then with anyone who caused our friends to miss entering that bus and when we reached school we talked about it with our mates. We would illustrate by demonstrating and concocting all sorts of hilarious gesticulations possible. The journeys were never silent and the society was not as social as it is now but that was as original and natural as fun could get.

Today's journey in UK is very social and civilised in the train or bus these days. It doesn't matter to us what the next pretty woman beside us feel - we tell a friend in another country what she looks like. We are social zombies out there and social sleepers while in the train. Smartphones are beds and earpieces are earplugs and smart glasses are sleeping masks and our social activities are our dreams - oblivious to beauty around us and only conscious of time. We instantly switch off and turn ourselves to emoticons, emojis and stickers and bask in a world of IMs (instant messages) with friends tons of miles away.

I wonder what journeys were like in the late 90s in UK. The other day I was in the train and people came in, settled down and immediately looked down into their screens as if they had been shot with tranquilliser. And though it was dead quiet yet most people had earphones on their heads. No one cared that no one said hello to the other. If anything was funny, No one could be bothered to share it with the next person. Everyone was very conscious yet socially slumbering. It seemed quite unnerving such order that persisted but that in itself was cold brew of chaos in its sheer existence. Back then in Lagos, we had preachers, sales men and teachers who would usually and annoyingly break the silence. Little did we know they were only restoring order by introducing their own chaos - such that often caused us to express or share our opinions to the commuter beside us. That interaction was social gold, an underrated treasure we once enjoyed and now have lost it.

But here's a rising danger to today's social trends and the impetus is social media. Smartphones engage people by seemingly proposing a world of fun and information thus luring people to live in it. And because smartphones can sustain consistency of fun varieties (by supplying an endless opium of social brew), people are endeared to it and unfortunately boxed and locked between its portals and can't get out of it nor their rooms nor reach out to another person. Isolation sets in when another human-company is non-existence and attention is unintentionally exiled in the process. Hence, no one is physically ever present to cry or reach out to. So you pick up a blade, break your skin, puncture a vein and hurt yourself. But instead of getting attention you seek, you raise a panic by the alarm you set on yourself. Thus self-harm becomes a price you gladly pay in exchange for a listening ear, a warm hug and a nice cup of tea maybe in the hospital or police ward. 
But even in that chaos, there seems to be victory for others. Others who have longed to be of help but were cut out by your deep indulgence and attachment to being social and consequently had to get caught up into that same social quicksand you are sinking in so as to drown their feelings of uselessness.

I think when order in a community leads to social peace, the type of todays', such that breeds isolation, then that order is disorder and that in itself is chaotic. This is because isolation is war against your mental wellbeing and in turn fatal to the body or bodies. But when scarcely that chaos breaks and people wake up from their social slumber to unite for a reason, isolation is then abolished and this so called chaos would have brought about order.

Anyway, I'm in this train right now looking downwards to my smartphone screen; I have my earpiece on and I'm totally engrossed in this short story I'm writing. I am oblivious to everyone around me as I type this to share with you because everyone else is really antisocial; however, I think I am being very very 'social'.


Croydon, United Kingdom
  • When we say say we are really social, we are actually the exact opposite.

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