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Underground Chatter

Today the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced come this fall, Bostonians will be able to chat it up via cell at “four of Boston’s busiest subway stations.” As if the cattle-like conditions of commuting doesn’t provide enough joy, underground travelers will now get to overhear which groceries mom should pick up for dinner and why Johnny deserves to get dumped.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the Zen-like hum of passengers plugged into their iPods (although I do wonder about the anti-social implications of that). The MBTA claims it’s a plus for security, but we can all imagine the number of times cellies will be used to make social plans or wrap up business deals, rather than alert security about terrorist threats.

Call me old-fashioned, but I have always found traveling to be a cathartic time-out amid the hecticness of life. A seven hour plane ride entitled me sacred time to catch up on a book or write in my journal. Now it’s seven hours tempted by Internet access and video games and TV. Even my 15-minute, four-stop NYC subway ride to and from work every day provides me with a relaxing escape to read a few pages in The New Yorker or people-watch. Pretty soon this quiet time will surely become infected by the ubiquitous buzz of 10 million New Yorkers’ Nokias and Motorolas.

We have this insatiable desire to infiltrate every second of our lives with productivity and convenience. Where should we draw the line?

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