For some time now I have been thinking I have become a little bit anti social in fact I have even had people say this to me. They say things like  “I saw you the other day but you didn’t see me, you were in your own little world with your headphones on”. when I hear this I feel like I need to apologise but then they did only say they saw me and don’t imply they tried to talk to me so is my behaviour that bad? I’m not sure of the reasons why I feel anti social like this but I thought I would do a little experiment. So for 7 days I didn’t listen to my iPod on my commute or keep checking app on my phone while out in public. I have chosen these two activities because they are things I use when out in public which may be making me a bit anti social. I set some ground rules for the experiment.

1)I was not to use my iPod while out in public.

2)I could only use my phone to make calls that needed to be made, send a text, pay for my coffee and use the camera only if there was something I really wanted to take a picture of but I could not upload to social until I got home.

Day 1/7 (Monday)

By Travis Ruse

It was an odd feeling leaving the house to go to work with no iPod in. You know that odd feeling when you think you have forgotten something but haven’t ? Well that is how I felt. I was certainly more aware of things around me such as traffic and other people. At the train station I found that I was going to go to check my phone but I stopped myself just in time. I realised it was just a habit that I had got into. Standing on the train platform I kept looking around me. Most of the people around me are the same each day but I don’t know their names and never speak. Part of me was wondering if I would have a ‘Love Actuallyesque’ experience but I didn’t expect anything that doesn’t happen in reality.  The train arrived and I got on and sat down. This normally a time that I would just play on my phone but I didn’t. Instead I sat and looked out of the window and watched the countryside and life pass me by. I did glance around at other commuters. They were all sat listening to music, doing work on laptops, talking to each etc. It made me think maybe it wasn’t me being anti social but just how we all act on the morning commute. The journey on the train seemed longer without music to distract me. Once the train arrived in the station I got off and headed to Starbucks for a coffee. Normally I would get it to go but this morning I had enough time to sit in and drink it. This was another good chance to not look at my phone. There weren’t many people inside and it was nice sitting there just drinking my coffee. No one spoke except the barista which is fine.  After I finished mmy coffee I carried on with my journey to work. some people did speak to me but they were people who work at the library or university.  I often seem them on my morning walk and say hello but the difference I answer without listening to them. This time though I listened before answering  and I felt that maybe this was an improvement.

I was having a bad day at work and really wanted to just block the world out with music at lunchtime but I resisted. I just went for a walk instead. My lunchtime walks are a good way to clear my head but they maybe adding to me being anti social as I go alone instead of with others for a chat. The day didn’t get much better and I was desperate to block the world out on my walk back to the station. I resisted once again and got the train home. I did read on the train but I felt this was allowed as I was still aware of others around me and I only read for part of the journey. Overall it was tough day and I really struggled with the experiment and so far I don’t feel any better for it.

Day 2/7 (Tuesday)

Leaving the house  this morning was not as bad as the day before. It didn’t feel quite as odd going out without my headphones in.  I was very aware of others around me and the noise they were creating. It made me think to how others perceived me when I had my headphones in. I have realised very quickly I have very low tolerance of other people especially when they are listing to musk comb their phone without headphones in, this is more anti social than me ignoring the world with my headphones in. No one spoke to me on my way to work today and in this silence I feel like the journey is twice as long. I do seem to be managing not checking apps on my phone as well. Occasionally I get a little twitchy but stop myself in time.

Day 3/7 (Wednesday)

Today I seem hyper sensitive to the noise of others and people are just annoying me especially business men on trains. I get the feeling they have to shout and say how much money they have earned to try to impress others in the carriage. Well I’m not impressed and if you have really made the money you are dying you have you can afford a ticket in first class (sorry to any nice quiet first class  passengers reading this). One thing I am aware of on my train journey is the announcer. I don’t usually listen to the announcer because of my headphones but now I have no choice. The announcer today did make me laugh when they said there was no breast basket in the buffet car today (hopefully they meant bread basket)OK deep breath it must be the mid-week slump that is making me struggle with the enthusiasm for the challenge. While walking through Durham someone did stop to speak to me but only to ask directions. I do get this anyway on my way to work but sty least I was more approachable without my headphones on and thats the idea behind this challenge that I have set myself. The train was very noisy on the way home on the evening and it just rounded off a perfectly challenging day for me.

Day 4/7 (Thursday )

It feels like this mini challenge that I have set myself is getting a bit easier. I’m not sure so far it is improving my lifestyle.  I may not have the distraction of music or apps but I’m still not talking to people and people are not talking to me. Maybe this whole anti social feeling I have is a bigger issue than just iPhone and iPod.  I know it sounds a little silly but part of me wondered if I would have some rom com style meeting with someone even a little bit of flirting. So far nothing but then really is that likely to happen (get back to the real world Tim). Without the distractions of music or other people talking to me I have found myself thinking more about my life and in particular my bucket list and realising I need to start doing more with these activities.  Maybe I’ll start writing a novel as thats on my bucket list. I’m rambling now see this is what happens when I have time to think. On my way home I called into Starbucks and sat in and had a coffee. I don’t normally do this but I had stayed back at work to catch up on work and I had some time before my train. Usually in this situation I would get my phone out and check Facebook etc but today I didn’t and instead I  sat and did some people watching and a bit of reading. Although it was noisy and a bit distracting it was nice to have this time to myself.

Day 5/7 (Friday)

I’m realising I can manage to get through my commute without listening to music. This doesn’t mean I am enjoying the experience but I realise I can do it if I make the effort. However I will be glad when this weeks challenge is over with and I can listen to music again. I’m doing ok not checking apps on my phone. I thought this would be the harder bit of the challenge but I seem to be doing ok with it.

Day 6/7 (Saturday)

Today the challenge won’t so much about my iPod but more about apps on my phone. This is because it is the weekend and I don’t have my train commute to do. I went for a coffee on the morning and I really struggled to not use my phone to check Facebook and Twitter etc. I did manage to get through my visit to Starbucks without this so this is some progress. The staff spoke to me but apart from that no one else. We all seem to observe an unspoken rule of not talking to others. I did look around but everyone was busy with their own lives and conversations. It is not just me people don’t take notice of others around them. Occasionally the tail end of conversations are heard and it gets me wondering what is going on in their lives and then I wonder are they doing the same about me. See I’m thinking too much again. After town I head home and I’m glad I only have one more day to go of the challenge.

Day 7/7 (Sunday)

Yes!!! it is the last day of the challenge today. I found it tough going today. Maybe because I knew this self-imposed challenge is coming to an end today I was just impatient to get it over with. It is a struggle today not to check the apps on my phone while out. I manage to get through this though. Nobody speaks to me today so I don’t feel much progress with the challenge. Thankfully this little challenge/experiment is now over with.

 My verdict

I had hoped to say that after a week of not listening to my iPod and not constantly checking my apps that I had made some progress towards being more of sociable in public. However this isn’t the case and it is not all down to electronic devices it is down to me. The reason why I have been feeling anti social is because I have let myself step back away from situations. The reason I don’t speak to people on my commute even if I wanted too is because something inside me stops me from doing it. Why is this? Not sure but confidence must play apart in it. I am going to go back to listening music etc but I will try to make an effort to be more confident when meeting people. In the past I have made the odd comment to a situation while waiting for a coffee for e.g. but nothing more. There are people on my daily commute that I see more than my friends and family and I don’t know them. some of theme ben work for the same place as me and we still don’t speak. I am more aware of what  need to do about being more sociable but then so do others. I don’t regret doing this experiment/challenge as it has made me question myself and I think that is good every now and again. If you do a daily commute on a train/bus/walk then maybe try this challenge and see how you find it and what you learn about yourself and others. If you do decide to take on the experiment do let me know how you find it.