Yesterday I was making a journey to Wales to visit the parents. I found that I had an hour wait at Shrewsbury before my next train so I decided to pop out for a beer. Having taken the train from Liverpool to Shrewsbury, I noticed that we passed numerous stations that had their name written in the queens as well as the dragons: English and Welsh names. Now, I do not claim to have the best knowledge geographically so forgive me but when I stepped off the train in Shrewsbury I was expecting to hear bubbly Welsh folk conversing about their day. Instead, I was met with slightly brummie accents. This came as a little shock to me, me believing I was in Wales, until I checked my location on Google Maps and found that I was just the other side of Wolverhampton. Silly me. We had passed through a section of Wales and returned back to England. However, this leads me in to the topic of this blog: technology helping the world.
The pub I chose was the first pub I saw from the station. It was a real pub, something that we don’t have enough of anymore. It felt like a cottage. It had a low ceiling, a warm atmosphere, locals sitting at the bar watching the snooker, brass hangings on the wall, photos behind the bar of the presumed owners, bar stools with teared covers, a bell for last orders, staff that know the customers, newspapers, a jukebox that looked alien to the surroundings, local radio playing in the background, local ales, bar tabs stuck to the wall, and a swear box charging 50p for every cuss. It was as far away from a city centre Yate’s or Spoons or Envi that you could get and I loved it. This is something that England should be proud of; we should be doing everything possible to maintain these pubs because sadly they will soon be extinct. David Attenborough needs to be doing a programme to save these declining beauties.
But one thing I noticed that clouded the whole experience was the amount of people, myself included, engrossed in their phones. Facebook has taken over people’s lives. I wasn’t on Facebook but from an outside perspective I may as well have been. Not ten years ago the air would’ve been filled with chatter and debate about unanswerable topics. Now, two clicks on Google and the wonder and imagination is dead. Seeing these people engrossed in their technology pained me a little because I can’t see any way of going back to the old days where friends were human and conversation inconclusive. But, then something happened that took me by surprise and made me think about things differently. The man to my right, who strangely had a hammer at the bar despite showing no signs that he was a man of hard labour, put down his Facebook and walked over to the ladies at the end of the bar. He was a regular and began the story:
“Here’yar, somebody on Facebook has just updated their stat-uss [sic] see: ‘anybody delivering sunday roasts?'”
This in-turn led to a full conversation with the two bar ladies, the man that made the discovery, and another man that had just walked in wearing a flat-cap. Questions were raised regarding transport and feasibility. Also: what they would put the dinners in, the distance they would travel, the price they would charge, how to out-do other pubs, where they would advertise, how they would distribute flyers (luckily they knew the local post lady who could deliver them through people’s doors), what other meals they could distribute, and who would be interested in the offer etc. Every point raised had an answer, notably plastic trays, the bar staff’s car, 15 miles, £7.50 (£2 more than the price at the pub), fish and chips, and people that were too hungover from the night before to cook a good meal. It was genius. They then suggested that advertising could be done over Facebook. This made me realise that the whole conversation, which lasted for a full pint of Guiness with a few diversions through the Spurs and City score and Tom Toms, had begun with a bloke checking Facebook and had ended with Facebook being used as a tool for advertisement. This was the light I had been searching for and hoping to find: Facebook was being used as an aid for human interaction as opposed to replacing human interaction.
I think everybody should be encouraged to use Facebook in this way, as a tool not as the norm. I am aware that I am a hypocrite because I use Facebook as much as the next person, but seeing how it was adapted in to real life in the sleepy, little cottage pub made me think. Facebook is about connecting people and making the world a smaller place, so isn’t that the way Facebook should be used?