On the way to work this morning, a dishevelled, confused, coughing and sick-looking man in his fifties stepped into our train carriage. The train was reasonably full with morning city commuters, just about all of them (usually ‘us’ but not this morning for some reason) plugged in to some device or immersed in a book or conversation on the phone or in person.
The man started mumbling what seemed like a question. Once, twice, not too loudly but enough to be heard by say 25 people. A woman to my right was updating her Facebook, a man left to me was texting someone. A few people raised their eyebrows, but nobody cared to listen to this man. Almost in synch, a woman sitting across from and myself addressed the man and tried to make sense of what he was trying to do.
After a couple of minutes, we worked out that he simply wanted to know if this train stops at a particular station. We assured him it does, but he was still somewhat apprehensive. We suggested listening to the announcement (not so easy with a crappy sound of auto-announcer in a noisy train) and the map on the wall. “I can’t read well” the man managed to state with a hushed tone, seemingly embarrassed. The woman, fellow passenger, asked loudly if someone is getting off at the particular station in question. One hand came up and a young man agreed to remind our confused, scared traveller when they arrive there.
The woman next to me lifted her eyes once and kept fiddling around with Facebook, reminding me of this classic.
This is not about bagging electronic devices and Facebook and the likes. It’s about helping others. Since we are social animals, it is not surprising that the biggest, most satisfying, inner and lasting happiness comes from helping, sharing and serving others. This is one of the major reasons why all this social media is spreading like wildfire through the very fabric of our community and shapes who we are becoming, always and never-endingly. The beauty of Twitter, for example, is not in publishing but in @ replies and serendiptious connections you make, “thank you’s” you sometimes generate quite inadvertently.
By all means help the newbies, expand, connect, collaborate with friends and strangers around the planet – just don’t forget those friends and strangers in need you can see, hear, smell around you.
Have a good day.