“You might feel that you’re of more value on the sidelines, documenting the event so people have proof that the subway station is in a dangerous state of disrepair.”

This sounds like wishful thinking or, if stated by one of the bystanders, excuse-making. I suppose you could make that hypothesis, but have we tested it? Is there any evidence that this is what people are thinking?

I think it’s just as likely people who spend all their time on their phones and online have removed themselves at least one level from the living, interactive world and they watch events around them with the same mindset and perception as one has in a video game. The objects and characters in front of you aren’t entirely real. They are usually boring, but then sometimes they will provide a spectacle, one which we generously wish to share with others in the NotRealVerse that we occupy. I see these phone zombies on the street all the time and you can tell they are not completely present. It’s as if the other awake humans and I are making our way through crowds of sleepwalkers.

When something dramatic happens around us, the other awake people and make eye contact with each other as if to say, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” But the phone zombies only stop looking at their phones long enough to raise them and click “video” so they can film what’s going on.

I’d like to think I would have gone to help that man who fell. If I felt I was in immediate danger by venturing into the water I might have instead run to get help. The one thing I wouldn’t have done is film it.

Linguist, philosopher, lover of history, wordhound, 21 year New Yorker, searching for meaning in the universe

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