Temporary communities

We organise our social engagements primarily via a screen. Morning texts, breakfast scroll, commuting Snap, lunchtime WhatsApps, evening FaceTimes; you can even get your post-work drinks for free through an app.

Some interactions remain infallible to technology. They are fleeting, and place you in a community of strangers. You may not remember the moments or the people, but they are uniquely, deeply personal.

Silent approval of the person who gives up their seat for someone in need on the Tube.

The camaraderie of heroism, whether it’s helping an old man who’s fallen down in the street, or something like this in New York back in February, when commuters came together to scrub swastika graffiti off the subway.

Sharing maladies, complaints and jokes on a hospital ward, hoping and knowing you both want the relationship to end as soon as possible because that means you can go home.

Smiling at someone walking a beautiful dog.

Smiling at someone holding a beautiful baby.

Watching your team win, lose, score, concede, get injured, bring a hero back. Raising your glass with someone wearing your team’s scarf that evening, when you find yourselves matching at the same bar on the other side of town. I was at the Emirates for Thierry Henry’s return for Arsenal against Leeds back in 2012, where he scored a perfect goal and we all cried.

Squeezing the arm of someone you’ve never met at a funeral.

Some things can’t be felt from a Snapchat.


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