On the flip side

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system, affectionately called Bart, zips all around the bay area, from the hills of San Francisco way out to the back bay. It is one of the real unifying points of the diverse communities in the area, and something the local people are pretty proud of.

Ironically, however, when riding the Bart, no one talks to each other. All these individuals standing and sitting right next to each other, and yet they are not conversing at all. When I used to ride Bart a lot, as an undergraduate, everyone had their nose buried in a newspaper or book. But nowadays, almost 20 years later, everyone has their attention on their smart phones and ipads. They are, in other words, far more interested in letting the people who aren't on the Bart with them know what they are up to, than in taking the time to talk to the people around them.

And I think that happens more and more to travelers these days, that their primary concern is to make sure friends and family back home get to vicariously experience their trip through facebook and twitter and vimeo and whatever else, rather than just focusing on the moment.

Of course I was as guilty as the next person, logging onto facebook on the Bart. But I would indeed recommend a trip at some point in time where the technology is left behind, and everyone who you want to share the experience with is actually right there with you. Just so you can look up from the Android every once in a while.


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