It was just another routine morning in my dreary existence.
Working a desk job isn’t the most adventurous vocation in the world; that too for a programmer resigned to the mundane task of sitting in front of a computer screen flowing with endless characters. You would think twelve years of deciphering code might have helped me on the journey of breaking down the meaning of life itself and up until the night before, I would have fervently disagreed with that statement.
There was nothing remotely rejuvenating about my work. Gone were the days of youth where the idea of breaking down complex sequential patterns appealed to me. My life was now defined by a routine and exhausting monotony dictated by the technology that shaped our little world.
Boarding the tube to work that day, I figured it would be just like any other. I had consumed my mug of bitter black coffee, a bite of burnt toast and walked the daily fifteen-minute stretch to the nearest underground terminal. The skies were overcast with the same gloom and doom that had followed it for the past decade and I didn’t expect anything to change there. But something was certainly different; marginally so but different nonetheless.
For the first time, I was able to hear things around me in a way I hadn’t before. Things I’d always been surrounded by but never cared to really acknowledge. Like the voices of pedestrians float away as I descended the stairs to the underground. The sounds of hurried, impatient commuters that bumped their shoulders aggressively against mine took over that of the life above. My ears twitched upon hearing the dry, emotionless delivery of the automated dispensing machine. I realized I hadn’t heard the compassionate greeting of a ticket-seller wishing me a good day in years, or felt the warmth of a hand as I am given my ticket for the journey.
My observations grew with every second that passed and with it, a cold dread that started to seep into my core from the pits of my stomach. The people around me were walking stopwatches, too rushed by the throes of life to see what exactly it was they were missing.
Standing before the yellow line in wait of the underground carrier, my eyes uneasily cast glances to my left and right. On both sides, I was surrounded by people with their heads bowed, eyes glued to the surface of a lifeless screen, their sunken eyes absorbing valueless content. I waited for someone to break formation, even desperately hoped a single soul would put down their phone and simply turn to the person next to them and say the word ‘hi’. But no one thought to do that and my grip on my briefcase grew tighter as the truth dawned on me.
We were all living in a self-created, destructive bubble.
From that moment on, everything seemed to fall apart. The clickity-clack of smartphones being typed into magnified in my ears. At the office, the sounds of computer keyboards took over that of human contact. The silence enveloping the vast area of cubicles was deafening. I longed to hear someone break out of the technologically induced trance and have a real conversation. I wished to have a cup of coffee with a colleague and not spend our ten-minute break sitting next to each other, wordlessly skimming through our phones.
At what point of our fall into social obsession had we trapped ourselves in a pit of social exclusion? The thought was suffocating and as the day progressed, I waited for the moment I could return to the comfort of my home and disconnect myself from the world we had created. That day, I faced a truth I had been avoiding for far too long.
With the sound of every character being typed, every swipe down the screen or every selfie being clicked, humanity fades away as we collectively murder what little is left of it.