Yesterday I stopped to peer through the windows at the enormous blue whale skeleton on display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia. It’s 25 metres, as long as a bus, and looms throughout the entire main floor of the building. Ramps on either side lead visitors down to displays on the lower level.
I watched a group of about fifty people, late teens or early twenties, enter the museum and walk down one of the ramps, the astonishing whale skeleton dangling ominously above. Only two out of those fifty people even glanced at the skeleton. The rest stared blankly ahead, chatted aimlessly, or gazed at their phones.
I tried to imagine they were fifty friends returning from lunch, all of whom work together in the musuem and have grown accustomed to the whale. Not likely. Rather, they were 48 people too absorbed in themselves to spare a moment to engage with the world.
Where was the curiosity? The wonder? Even just a sense of novelty? I’d settle for any sign of mental activity.
It’s enough to make a person skeptical about the future.