My first experience reading Adbusters magazine has left me wondering - hopeful for myself - yet worried for the masses.
What will we all end up becoming?
I sit down in seat 3B - a black flickering screen stares me in the face. I understand why it is here, but I cannot fathom why no one else turns theirs off. Have screens become such a commodity, so expected, that they must be left on - even when we cannot use them?
The women on either side do not talk to me - though we will be sitting inches from each other for the next three hours. One will later apologize for gently grazing my arm while shifting in her seat. Sure, it's a polite gesture, but it feels over the top. Aren't we part of the same society?
I try to read - my thoughts frequently pondering what I will do next. I'm thinking clearly - better write it down before the moment is gone. But I know that if I pull out my laptop, I will get sucked into a world of infinite distraction. And lose my place.
Thankfully I have a pen and paper.
Then I realize that I'm still reading the magazine - absorbing nothing. Lost in my own thoughts of how I might become a better person. How I might avoid distraction. How distractions and entertainment are no longer something we choose - they are something we must fight hard to resist. I've already chosen a half a dozen times *not* to put in my earbuds. But finally I give in - trying to drown out the man talking behind me.
He is talking about football, and I feel compelled to listen - not because I hope to connect with this man - but because I literally cannot shut off this insatiable thirst for information. Information I know has no application to anything that will ever be truly important.
I open up the White Noise app, and choose the airplane setting. He is gone.
The women to my left shifts, and her leg rests lightly against mine. I do not recoil. Instead I wonder if she has done this intentionally and how sad it is that even the slightest physical contact with a stranger is so rare as to be noteworthy.
I look to my right - all four people are reading a book - holding it inches below their flickering TV screens. One is listening to an iPod too.
A familiar tone sounds, and I wonder if the plane will descend soon. I have no idea how long we have been aloft because, well - it has been so long since I've written anything that I barely recognize my own handwriting.
My brain has run out of thoughts now which tells me it is time to do something else. In this world of ubiquitous multitasking - the thought of sitting quietly for a few minutes with nothing to do is borderline terrifying.
But I won't pick up the magazine again because I'm nearing the end and fear that once I've finished - I'll have nothing left to spark these brief moments of honesty and reflection that are so often lost in the haze of digital distraction.