Imprisoned childen, phone zombies… do you ever feel like you’re living on another planet?

Whilst walking to the cinema this week in the never-ending heatwave, it occurred to me that something wasn’t quite right.  The weather was perfect, the schools are on holiday and yet I didn’t see a single person as I walked the 15 minutes to the cinema at 10.30am on a weekday morning.

I couldn’t and a few days on, really can’t understand why.  In the 1980’s I would be out in the holidays from around 8am until it got dark.  Whilst I would spend the occassional wet day playing computer games or watching videos, what I and indeed all the children I knew wanted to do was to go out.  Rather than go to expensive and professional activities paid for by perhaps guilty or over indulgent parents,  we would be out riding bikes, falling off skate boards, climbing trees, playing football, cricket, hide and seek, Bulldog, Robin Hood, Army games… whatever it took to get outside the house.  And it wasn’t a summer thing, except for our clothing, not much changed between August and January.

People often say the world is a much more dangerous place now than it used to be but the official murder rates in Britain don’t back this up and I remember in the 1980’s and 90’s and there were definitely more high-profile child abductions and murders back then than in recent years.  Of course that may be as no-one plays out any more but the rate back then was tiny and now is miniscule and back then there were few of the hi-tech advances that police and society at large take for granted now.


Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 16.20.15

Homicide rates for the UK in the 1990’s.  it’s interesting how low even then the rates are compared to a range of nations and no-one thinks any of them to be violent or unsafe.



Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 16.27.50

Homicide rates per 100,000 in the 2010’s


It also got me thinking of how detached I feel from society today.  I don’t really feel a part of it at all.  For instance, I walked to the cinema.  How many people do that?  Everyone is always in such a hurry or are too lazy that they use motor vehicles for journeys that are well within easy walking range.  I don’t know where all these people are driving to in such a hurry.  Are their lives infinitely more complex and busy than mine?  What are they doing?  I spend much of my time walking from place to place, I often have the music to Kung-Fu in my head as I walk Grasshopper style from place to place.

Perhaps another reason for children being absent from the outdoors and the speedy life-style some people seem to be in is due to technology.  A survey last week revealed that in the UK a total of 78% of all adults now own a smartphone.


On average, people check them once every 12 minutes during their waking hours, the study claims.

Two in five adults look at their phone within five minutes of waking, while a third check their phones just before falling asleep, according to the report.

A high percentage (71%) say they never turn off their phones and 78% say they could not live without it.

While three-quarters of the British public still regard voice calling as an important function of their phones, more (92%) say web browsing is crucial.

I find all of this astonising as I don’t own a smart phone.  I check my phone maybe once a day or sometimes once a week.  I couldn’t live without oxygen or water but I seem to be doing perfectly fine without a smart phone.  I can easily not put my phone for a week or more and only then for business reasons.  I just can’t imagine being so addicted to my phone that I check it in bed, there are so many better things to do there!

The average daily time spent on a smartphone is two hours 28 minutes, rising to three hours 14 minutes for 18 to 24-year-olds, the report indicates.  I can only think to myself that this is such a waste of time.

Most people expect a constant internet connection, with the majority of adults saying the internet is an essential part of their lives, and one in five spending more than 40 hours a week online.  The average is a more modest 24 hours a week online, with more than half of that time spent on mobile phones.

For the first time, women spent more time online than men, particularly in the age group 18 to 34 where females spent an average half an hour longer online than men.


Seven in 10 commuters use their smartphones on their journey to work, with nearly a half saying they use it to complete “essential tasks”.

Whilst I can see why smartphones are useful to while away the commute, I’m still surprised at how sometimes 99% of my fellow commuters are either talking, reading or watching content through their phones.  Me, I just like a bit of peace and quiet and to watch the world go by through the window.    I’d love to know what exactly their “essential tasks” are.  I run my own business and I don’t seem to have any essential tasks to do when i am out and about… and I’m away from my computer from about 6.30am-6pm.

As a business owner, again, I have never ever heard what I would count as being an important conversation on their mobile (cell) phone.  It’s all nonsense and just innane noise which needn’t be said at all or at the very least could wait until people got off the trai, bus or whatever.  I remember when mobile phones were initially advertised, they were marketed just for making or receiving ’emergency’ calls.

It is also reported that the average household spends £124 on communication services each month compared to my £11.

So I guess that is why no-one is out playing on the streets and everyone is glued to their phones or zooming round their cars.  I still can’t see what everyone is doing on their devices and can’t help but thing that some-one, somewhere has conned everyone into thinking that this is a better way to live whilst they actually miss communicating people sat right next to them on the bus or experiencing real life outside the bubble of their car and home.

No wonder I don’t feel part of society, there barely is one.  Just people getting more and more isolated and highly in whatever political and social bubble they become engrossed in and not actually talking to real people from across society.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in Life, News, Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Imprisoned childen, phone zombies… do you ever feel like you’re living on another planet?

  1. Ankur Mithal says:

    Be careful with what you say, Stephen. You might be locked away in a museum for trying make the world “undeveloped”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is true. What would be doubly sad though is that no-one would notice as people in museums spend all their time listening to audio guides and speeding from one place to the next rather than enjoy museum exhibits on their own!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Boyer Writes says:

    So agree!!! I just wrote a blog about what even reading the new or listening to the news regularly on TV or online can do to your brain. We certainly have to add the phone to the problem. Here is my link on the subject if you’d like to take a look.


    • I like your post Nancy. I must say I have found those who spend the most time absorbing the news no matter which side of the political divide are also those most unhappy and often ‘subjectively’ wrong. Using just my own observations from walking around London several hundred times a year and meeting people from all backgrounds in the city (and obviously from overseas too), despite all the doomongering and scare stories most people seem pretty happy and just want to get on with their lives in peace.


  3. Life without a smart phone is completely normal. I have felt just what you written about and decided that if the rest of humanity is locked indoors contemplating their own navel ( smart phone) then that just leaves the rest of the world with a bit more space in for me to enjoy. It is a self selecting destiny! Enjoy the freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Stephen Liddell Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s