Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Free wifi on public transport

has been announced as the next big thing here. Oh. Right.
Apparently people like to work on the way to work. Fair enough.
Apparently people also like to play games, "chat" on social media, watch a television show they have missed and so on. Really?
People used to do other things on public transport...reading books and newspapers was popular. They talked to each other - the regulars knew one another and strangers would sometimes be included. Downunderites are a reasonably friendly mob. 
I have done a lot of knitting on trains. I have taught a transit officer how to turn the heel of a sock and shown another how to make a one row buttonhole. I have also been told off by another passenger for "fidgeting" and distracting him - from, I suspect, the game he was playing on his lap top. 
There have been many students doing last minute cramming for an exam - and now they do it on their lap tops. Early in the week one of them is almost bound to be texting or chatting on their phone - the topic is usually the activities of the weekend.
In other places people do other things. There was once an Italian class on the Brighton to London line. It suddenly stopped and the other passengers investigated - only to discover that the entire class had gone to Italy on holiday. Some regulars apparently play bridge or compete to see who can do the Times crossword at the greatest speed. 
And yes, I know more than one writer who writes on longer train journeys. 
That's fine. I don't mind it but I wonder if all these people really need "free wifi". Is it all so urgent that it can't wait until they get to their workplace? 
I know someone who now lives in Belgium. When he lived here he had a journey of about twenty-five minutes into his place of work. He also chose to walk to the closest station - about another ten minutes away. He would turn his mobile phone off when he left the house and  he would not turn  it on again until he reached the office. It was, and remains, his belief that he was actually more efficient that way. He was, and remains, the head of a big international business and he insisted on his staff doing what he did.  "Your work is valuable," he would tell them,"I want you to be able to work efficiently but I want you to do it at the right times. I also want you to take a break when you need it. I want you to start the day when you get to the office."
Oddly, they got more work done than people in similar occupations. His staff always seemed happy to me - and I had plenty to do with them at the time. His business did well too, so well that he expanded it and took over two more before moving to Belgium - where he had taken over more.
Of course there are times when working on public transport will help - and, for someone who wants to write, it might be the only opportunity to do anything like that. But, do we really want to live in a world where people are staring down at a screen and ignoring each other all the time?


Melodye Traupel said...

He sounds like an extremely intelligent man.

I wish people would text when they are in public spaces. I have heard so many conversations that I never had any desire to hear--way too much information.

And I don't understand why people attend public events and hold up their cell and watch through the cell lens. Why don't they turn off their phones and experience each moment unfiltered by technology?

Your Curmudgeon Big Sister Cat

cathyc said...

It's a pity we don't have the Japanese attitude that talking on phones in public is not acceptable behaviour.

But as for wifi being available, well, I think overall it's a good thing as I very much hope it encourages people to take public transport rather than drive. I don't really care what they do with it as long as it's quiet!