19 October 2012

The Sound of Thoughts

I received an email from a friend this morning. It had eight or nine photos of groups of people in various locations – sitting in a café, a restaurant, by a beautiful painting in a museum, at the beach, at a game, driving around the city in a convertible.  The point of similarity in each of the photos was that everyone was totally absorbed in their phone. 

The quote at the end of the email said, "I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots." Albert Einstein.

I’ve been away for a few days in Sydney - a mixture of work and fun. Sydney has a population of approximately 4.6 million people compared to Auckland at 1.5 million, and as I mostly work from home and live in a sleepy coastal suburb, I really notice the difference in pace and energy in my surroundings.

I love visiting Sydney for this vibrant, enthusiastic atmosphere, and it gives the writer in me an opportunity to people watch and listen to snippets of conversation.

I think you can tell a lot about a city by watching the residents early in the morning. At Circular Quay people exit the ferries from suburbs on their way to work. The weather was hot and sunny while I was there, and what better way to get to work than by cruising past the Harbour Bridge and Opera House on a ferry. Walking across Anzac Bridge from Darling Harbour another morning, people were walking, jogging and running to work.  The monorail runs above the bridge and later in the day (when it was close to 30 degrees) the only shade on the bridge was immediately under the monorail. There was a trail of people (myself included), like a line of schoolchildren following their teacher, walking across the bridge in this sliver of shade.

One of the things I noticed is how plugged in we are. On the city streets during the peak commuter times the majority of people wore headphones, and the same was true of most people at any time on the underground. I like to listen to music on noisy flights, and I need music with a good beat when I’m running (it’s the only thing that keeps me going!), but I also love going for walks with just my thoughts as company, and I wonder in all this world of noise we have, whether we’re losing the capacity to enjoy quiet times.


  1. Good point. We need more real interaction. And also some real down time to be with our thoughts.

  2. I think people are continously plugged in because they fear to be alone with their thoughts. Those quiet times are when we take stock of ourselves and our surroundings.

  3. I agree with both of you. We certainly need real interaction in our lives with friends and family, and I also enjoy interacting with people through this blog and Twitter. I guess it's about moderation and making time. I enjoy listening to music or audio books when I'm travelling, but I'm also very aware I need quiet time as well. My best ideas come during those peaceful periods, and certainly not when I'm sat in front of my computer. Thanks for your thoughts.