herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

20 ways every Dubliner can pass the time without electronics…

How to pass the time in the city without resorting to electronics
How to pass the time in the city without resorting to electronics

This is the last article you’ll read online before switching off.

Too often, we miss out on life’s simple pleasures because, well, we’re all plugged in and switched on. Facebook. Spotify. Tinder. It’s all just a little too much, right? Do we really need electronics to survive our morning commute? Maybe not. It’s time to sign out of Twitter, put away the tablets, leave the headphones at home and get back to the real world. We know what you’re thinking – how on earth are you going to survive the trip to and from work without the internet, or your favourite choons? Easy. Just follow our alternative list of spare-time activities and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a gadget-free lifestyle. We hope…

1. Eavesdrop on the morning commute…

Listening in to other people’s conversations isn’t rude. There’s a reason so many of us get a kick out of ‘Overheard in Dublin’. People are entertaining. Dubliners, in particular, are fascinating - you could learn a lot from them. The rules are simple: do not stare, don’t turn around, and never, ever point your finger. Or, you know, intervene / reply. Just…listen. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll hear when you pause the music and remove those pesky headphones. Oh, come off it, everybody loves a good earwig sometimes...

2. Pick up a sturdy, pocket-sized notebook and pen…

Carry it on you at all times. It’ll come in handy for some of the following…

3. Write a story…

It could be an essay, or a screenplay. Heck, you could even have the makings of a best-selling novel inside that busy brain of yours. The best place to start? Why, on the DART, of course. Think about it, there are so many potential ‘characters’ and scenarios to choose from. Joe Bloggs over there in the fancy suit and loafers hasn’t budged since he hopped on at Connolly. He keeps checking his phone for texts. Dude looks poised for action; his left eyebrow is permanently arched. This bloke could very well be a secret agent! Jot it down, let loose and plan his next step. A little artistic licence goes a long, long way…

4. Write a ‘to-do’ list…

You don’t need an iPhone notebook or a BlackBerry (do people still use BlackBerry devices?). What didn’t you get done at work yesterday? What’s the plan for today? What needs to be fixed around the house? Whose turn is it to take out the bins? Write it all down, folks. Again, it’s good for the brain.

5. Buy a puzzle book…

Because good, old-fashioned word searches, crosswords and Sudoku puzzles never go out of fashion.

6. Buy a newspaper…

We wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest which paper you pick up. But, y’know, choose wisely. Also, are magazine subscriptions still a thing? They should be.

7. Try making friends with the stranger next to you…

Or, at the very least, nod and say ‘hello’. Ask them about their day. Kick-start a chat about the weather. It’s nice to be nice. Gauge the situation for yourself - communication is key, people. Is it really all that weird to start an actual conversation with a stranger in the real world when we spend so much of our lives doing the exact same thing online? Just so long as you don’t annoy anyone. Oh, and for the love of God, don’t go chatting up people on the bus. Jaypers, nobody needs that kind of hassle on the way home. Just interact with your fellow human beings. It’s not that far-fetched a notion…

8. Start a diary…

“Dear diary, today I switched off Twitter. The world didn’t stop turning.”

9. Hum / Sing / Dance your way to work…

If people can stop in the middle of the street to take photos of themselves with the help of a ‘selfie stick’, while others chat to their friends on the phone a la Kim Kardashian and Family (loudspeaker on, earphones in), then believe us when we tell you that there is no harm in having an actual spring in your step when making your way to work of a sunny midweek morning. Go on - hum the signature tune from Oklahoma if you must. The skies are clear; you’re in a good mood. Tis a free country.

10. Make an actual shopping list for dinner…

We told you that notebook would come in handy….

11. Ditch the Kindle…

Fact: There is no better feeling in the world than kicking back in the park at lunchtime or on the way home on the DART with an actual book in front of you. One made of paper.

12. Pick up a shiny new sketchbook…

There’s a reason we all did art at school. Drawing is fun.

13. Buy a map…

Circle the places in Dublin you’ve never been. Make a plan to become a tourist in your own city at the weekend. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve been missing out on. Bonus points if you take one of those open-air bus tours. Go on, it’ll be a laugh.

14. Make holiday plans…

Based entirely on where you’d like to go in the world. You don’t need Trip Advisor. We can be adventurous without Google. Feck off, Facebook, with your fancy holiday friend snaps. Turn over a fresh page in that trusted notebook of yours and make a list of all the places you said you’d visit after you’d finished school / college / Netflix. Now, go for it.

15. Eat your food…

Without taking pictures of it, we mean. Or browsing Twitter. Eating is an activity in itself and professional studies have shown that breakfast, lunch and dinner are much, much tastier meals without adding Instagram to the mix.

16. Invest in an Encyclopaedia…

Again, one made of actual pages. Get your study on. Try to memorise all the important facts in the world without resorting to Wikipedia / IMDB. It’s a super-fun activity / skill, and one you can impress all your friends with. It’ll also make you a god at pub quizzes.

17. Window shop…

In actual stores made of concrete and glass. Forget about swiping up, down, left and right. There are real-life bargains on your way to and from work, you know.

18. Meditate…

What we really mean is ‘do nothing’. Stare out the window on the bus and take in the city without music / Morning Ireland blaring in your ears. It’s very relaxing.

19. Knit…

Didn’t the hipsters make knitting cool again? If not, they totally should.

20. Switch on your phone

Just to tell your friends you’ve started a screenplay / finished your puzzle book / knitted a scarf on the train… Well, we’re only human. We can only go so far…

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