Even the angel of death tubes and texts at the same time. I spotted him on the Picadilly line en route to central London from Heathrow. There’s a glimpse of coverage just after (or before) Hammersmith and alongside all his fellow passengers he obsessed over messages, music and the web. His mobile fixated him like a small crystal ball, he hardly looked up (thankfully) missing me merrily snapping his picture. London has, for the longest time, been a “heads down” commuter culture, with free papers or books and now phones you can cast an eye over any busy London commuter landscape and be greeted by a sea of head crowns. So it isn’t new, but the increased “frequency” or “volume” of this mobile practice is. In between destinations, killing time, this is a dedicated and obsessive behaviour. Strongly juxtaposed with the Parisians on the metro, who split their time equally between reading and (shock) just sitting doing nothing. Or the Amsterdammers who have bicycle lanes to navigate (often done with one hand using a mobile) but much shorter distances to cover. The average London commuter by comparison is a very dedicated mobile practitioner with more time to kill. Corroborating this idea I saw signs at the bus stops imploring people to not shout into their mobiles and respect fellow passengers.
This highlights the phone as a player or actant in our public space and the way we form relationships with others in it. Here, the phone becomes the offender or the pacifier depending on how it’s used and our investment in this small piece of technology just continues to grow.