London's Tube network is a feat of human engineering to be admired. The intricate network of tunnels deep beneath the ground safely transport over 1 billion people a year to their desired destinations. Given the nature of its construction, with the Underground being underground, the Tube has historically been an Oasis amongst the chaos and hustle and bustle of the real work above; a place where for a precious 5, 15 or 20 minutes a day you were the master of your own fate. Uncontactable, unnoticeable, unapproachable. For many, namely the same people that are undeterred by halitosis and the feeling of a stranger's erogenous zones upon one’s thigh, being wrapped in your own bubble of headphones, smartphones and books creates an environment of genuine reflection and uninterrupted unwinding.
Such is our love of the Tube’s tranquillity that we take on social practices that we would frown upon in any other social environment. So valued are those precious moments that in circumstances when our eyes meet the eyes of another whom we know, and the glance lasts long enough to become a short stare in which both parties acknowledge the existence of the other, we deliberately return our heads down and convince ourselves that such an encounter never happened. It’s the unspoken Underground Underwhelm where human instinct kicks in to protect a part of our lives that is so gravely under threat: Me Time.
If you are an EE, (Orange or T-Mobile) or Virgin user you are now eligible to access free Wi-Fi from an ever-growing number of train platforms. Although the number of stations is presently limited, with access restricted to platforms only, the concern is that this is just the beginning of the erosion of peace and quiet on the Tube. As technology continues its advance, it is only a matter of time before internet connectivity becomes available across the Tube’s vast underground network. In a world where we increasingly find ourselves detached from the introspective and forever attached to our work or social networks, the existence of a short period of time where our status cannot be checked and emails cannot be received is something that should be preserved and not so hastily destroyed. By continuing to advance at such a fast pace without ever truly considering the necessity of such advances, beyond the notion of we can therefore should, we risk being so focused on the next that we will forget what it is like to just stand still and be.