Walking home the other day I saw something out of the corner of my eye and stopped to take a closer look. It was an unassuming line of graffiti stenciled onto the quay wall, just a little way off the ground, maybe at thigh level. It read: Don’t be another brick in the wall. First it made me smile and then it made me think.
I looked around and saw how most of the people walking across the bridge or down the quays were engrossed in their phones, faces tilted downwards, eyes glued to the screens, some were wearing headphones, others just a faraway look.
As I walked away, Pink Floyd the soundtrack in my head, I couldn’t help but wonder what the graffiti artist meant, was it just a little joke about walls and bricks or was he trying to tell passersby to not build walls around themselves that detach them from reality, or to not become a brick in someone else’s wall but to become an active part in their lives.
However the artist meant it I did feel that the words were somehow hidden in plain sight – like a secret I was let in on just because I stopped and looked and didn’t just walk by, my eyes fixed on my phone. I wondered how many others had spotted it, how many would or would it be just another neglected piece of graffiti that, unnoticed, would wash away in time.
To me it was just a simple reminder that the world around me is so much more interesting and surprising than anything I could find in my phone with the added bonus that it is real, not just a fictional online world that in the end is often too fast-paced to make any long-lasting impact.