Strangers on a Bus

The bus came before she’d made up her mind and she got on. The driver looked at her as if he were expecting someone else but didn’t ask any questions. She sat down in the back row and put her bag under her seat.

The bus drove off with a loud hiss of compressed air from its brakes and Dylis looked out of the window, trying to figure out where they were going. It was hard to tell as all she could see was traffic lights, cars, buildings, road signs and a few people walking past them or sitting in cars waiting at red lights. When they stopped at a junction she recognized one building from the park bench but couldn’t remember what it was called or why it was important enough for her to have noticed it before now. She tried looking away from the window so that she wouldn’t be able to see anything familiar anymore but that didn’t work either because then all she could see was herself reflected in the glass with nothing outside except a blur of moving colored shapes that meant nothing without context or meaning anymore than words did when you couldn’t read them anymore than you could read an unknown language even if you knew how to speak English because there weren’t any letters left just blobs of color like an abstract painting only more random and meaningless because no one would ever look at an abstract painting unless there were some kind of meaning behind it anyway so why bother?


She started getting bored after a while so instead turned her attention towards everyone else on the bus who seemed equally bored themselves despite their attempts not to show it by staring intently at their phones as if every message mattered more than life itself although maybe they were just pretending not to care about anything in case anyone saw them doing something trivial like checking Facebook while taking public transport home from work? Or maybe they really didn’t care about anything except their own tiny little worlds inside their phones where everything mattered more than life itself until they took another glance out of the window again when suddenly everything disappeared into insignificance again? Although maybe this time there would be no return trip through whatever magic portal existed between these two states; perhaps this time things really did matter less than nothing forevermore? Because who cared about anything anymore now that we had smartphones anyway?


Dylis wondered whether anyone would notice if she fell asleep right here on this bus ride home or whether anyone would miss her even if they did notice although probably not since nobody bothered talking much anyway plus most people seemed too busy doing other things with their phones plus most people seemed too busy doing other things with their phones plus most people seemed too busy doing other things with their phones plus most people seemed too busy doing other things with their phones plus most people seemed too busy doing other things with their phones plus most people seemed too busy doing other things with their phones plus most people seemed too busy doing other things with their phones to even notice anything except maybe the bus stopping and starting again and a few of them might look up from their phones long enough to see the driver ask if anyone knew who this girl was although they wouldn’t bother trying to find out because why would they?


She wondered whether it had always been like this or whether it was just something that had happened recently without anybody noticing until now when suddenly everyone was glued to a tiny little rectangle in which everything mattered more than life itself? Or maybe it hadn’t been like this at all before smartphones existed but only now after smartphones had become so popular that almost everybody owned one did we realize what an incredible power we’d given ourselves over eachother and our own lives? And now that we realized how much power we held over eachother did we try to stop using our smartphones anymore, putting them away so as not to be tempted into controlling eachother anymore, but then found out that you couldn’t turn off something so convenient or addictive even if you tried hard enough because once you owned one there was no getting rid of it ever again?


So instead what choice did you have except to keep using your smartphone like everyone else did until eventually every last person on Earth became addicted, unable to function without checking his phone every few minutes even when he didn’t need anything from it anymore but only wanted reassurance that he still existed somehow by seeing new posts and comments appear in his feed despite knowing deep down inside himself that these were nothing more than empty symbols for popularity and attention-seeking validation rather than true feelings of love or friendship between real human beings who could talk face-to-face whenever they felt like it instead of needing constant reassurance from strangers on the Internet about how important you were as a person? And then once everybody became addicted, unable to function without constantly checking his phone every few minutes even when he didn’t need anything from it anymore but only wanted reassurance that he still existed somehow by seeing new posts and comments appear in his feed despite knowing deep down inside himself that these were nothing more than empty symbols for popularity and attention-seeking validation rather than true feelings of love or friendship between real human beings who could talk face-to-face whenever they felt like it instead of needing constant reassurance from strangers on the Internet about how important you were as a person, did we finally realize what an incredible power we’d given ourselves over eachother and our own lives? And now that we realized how much power we held over eachother did we try to stop using our smartphones anymore, putting them away so as not to be tempted into controlling eachother anymore, but then found out that you couldn’t turn off something so convenient or addictive even if you tried hard enough because once you owned one there was no getting rid of it ever again?

And then did we try to take back some of this control by limiting when people could use their phones and what they could do with them in certain situations such as during meals together with friends or during important events like weddings or funerals? But then when people started forgetting about the rules and used their phones anyway despite knowing better, did these new rules also become impossible to enforce because too many people had smartphones now for anybody else to be able to tell them not to use them without sounding like a crazy person who didn’t understand how important phones had become in everybody’s life? And so instead of taking back control through laws limiting when people could use their phones and what they could do with them in certain situations such as during meals together with friends or during important events like weddings or funerals, did some countries instead choose another option which was just letting everyone keep using their smartphones but trying harder than ever before at hiding all the negative effects from other countries by pretending everything was fine even though deep down inside themselves nobody knew any longer whether anything was really fine anymore except maybe for those few moments after posting something new on social media where everybody seemed happy except for those few moments after posting something new on social media where everybody seemed happy except for those few moments after posting something new on social media where everybody seemed happy except for those few moments after posting something new on social media where everybody seemed happy except for those few moments after posting something new on social media where everybody seemed happy except for those few moments after posting something new on social --


But soon even these tiny blips of happiness would vanish forevermore. Because soon nobody would care anymore. Because soon nobody would remember why they needed constant reassurance from strangers online about how important they were as a person in the first place. Because soon nobody would remember why they needed constant reassurance from strangers online about how important they were as a person in the first place.


Because soon nobody would remember why they needed constant reassurance from strangers online about how important they were as a person in the first place. The bus came before she’d made up her mind and she got on. The driver looked at her as if he were expecting someone else but didn’t ask any questions. She sat down in the back row and put her bag under her seat.


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