Next Week on August 21st the country will experience a total solar eclipse. New York City will only get about 71% visibility of it but enough that a huge deal can be made of the phenomenon. The first of it’s kind in 99 years. Special glasses are already being sold to see the solar eclipse and events will be taking place everywhere for those cities able to see it, including us New Yorkers. On Monday at 2:44 pm, hundreds of heads will be all looking up towards the sky. This will be an amazing sight for more reasons than just to see the solar eclipse. It also happens to be an unprecedented moment; New Yorkers actually looking up, instead of down at their phones.
Once upon a time that famous Ferris Bueller quote about life’s quickness used to resonate with us. But things have changed. Now, no one really hears those words anymore. Instead, they’re busy taking a page from a different, famous quote. Lennon, who told us, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. And it would appear that all of New York City is way too busy making plans, sending texts, checking statuses, and posting Instagrams to look up, and not just notice life, but the people within it other than themselves. We are a society of people perpetually locked in a downward gaze towards the electronics that run our lives. Too embedded in our tech support to notice real live, tangible things literally right in front of us. I’ve been guilty of this on occasion, but I try to make my in-transit tech check ins brief and succinct. Always keeping one eye up. Can’t say that others are so cautious. In fact, I tested this. I walked down one, super long New York city avenue. Head up, phone in pocket, and alert of my surroundings. As a New Yorker should be, by the way. Out of what was likely to be 150 people are so, less than 10 % were looking up while passing me; a few even almost bumped into me.
There are several types usually at play here. The alert walker; always me and a few, sparse others. The phone looker who realizes too late, and apologizes, proceeding to look back down. And then the unforgiving phone users, frozen in an eyes down stance and refusing to look up, or even watch where they’re going. These are the most likely to bump you and keep on walking. I know it won’t change, but I wish people would start paying attention and looking up more. Not only is it more logical for the civil society we’re (supposedly) living in, but guess what? You might actually see some cool things. Quite a lot happens at above chest level. Cool buildings, old architecture, a cute person, or maybe next week, you can even see the solar eclipse. So set your phone timer for 2:44 pm, but then put your phone away, and eyes up. Here’s what you might find if you do.
1. See the solar eclipse. Monday, the United States will bear witness to a total solar eclipse. Certain states will get to witness an event 99 years in the making. Others of us, including here in NYC will get to see the solar eclipse with about a 71 % view. We’ll take it.
2. Catch eyes with a gorgeous man or woman. That stranger passing you on the street could be your future spouse. But you’ll never know, because you just got a beep, and looked down to take out your phone and check your updates.
3. A sunset.
4. A killer sale being promoted in the window of your favorite store.
5. Inspiring artwork above eye level.
Street Art – 4th avenue & 9th Street
Clock above the sandwich shop on 4th and 13
6. Old buildings and interesting architecture.
First Presbyterian Church on 5th avenue & 12th
7. This building with a face that I always say is smiling at me.
Building by Cooper Square – Not sure the name of it