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Internet, Stop Tossing Joshua Bell in My Face

Joshua-bell I really need the internet to quit guilt-tripping me with that Joshua Bell video.

About three and a half years ago, world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell participated in a social experiment when he played his million-dollar violin during rush hour at the L'Enfant Metro station in Washington D.C. Bell's concert tickets sell for hundreds of dollars, but on that morning, only a few people acknowledged his presence with a glance and even fewer paused to listen. And his earnings that day didn't even break $50.

Every few months or so, someone "finds" this video and posts it to their blog or their Twitter or their Facebook and the commentary that they echo from the experiment and the Washington Post article on it is always the same: we're so mired in our mediocre existences that we don't even notice when beauty or genius is right in front of us.

Frankly, I'm sick of it.

It's definitely noteworthy that someone so lauded could be largely ignored by a large crowd of people, but I can't stand the tsk-tsking that is directed toward the commuters, especially since I would likely be one of the people who merely glanced at Bell on my way to work. I get especially irritated at how the article calls out the woman who rushes her child, who of course wants to stop and listen, past Bell so that she can get him to school and herself to work on time.

I'm a working mom and I feel bad enough about the fact that I can't just marvel at existence every morning with my kid. When I have to rush him to the school bus because he took forever eating breakfast, I wish that it didn't have to be that way. That we could leisurely get out of bed and linger over a delicious, wholesome meal before reading or playing outside and tell each other how amazing life is. But he has to get to school and I have to go to work so that we can survive. And we often comment on how blue the sky is or how good the lilacs smell. Just because we can't stop and drool doesn't mean that we can't appreciate anything and we're definitely not "ghosts" as the WaPo asserts. 

Anyway, please, if you come across this video and think that it just says sooooooo much about our modern condition, leave me and my fellow working folks out of it.


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I hadn't seen this before and even now watched with the sound off because I'm at work. Was this just in the morning? Because seriously? I'm trying to raise 2 boys on my own and can't afford to lose my job over pretty. I played viola for 7 yrs and probably would've given this guy just a glance while rushing past. After work it'd be different, but IMO all this says is that most people can't afford to be late to work.


I hadn't seen this before. It's a damn metro station. I've seen huge crowds gather to watch artists perform in Central Park, while they are there during their leisure time and not trying to catch a train. Duh. Stupid experiment.


Yes, this is the viral video that will never die. While it's a shame that more people didn't stop, the moralizing gets awfully tired.


I agree. Also please stop tossing Jennifer Aniston in our face to.


Well, screw the demonizing, but it *does* say plenty about the modern condition. You wish things didn't have to be this way (I feel ya, btw), and I think that says plenty. That's one of the promises of modernity, right? Less time spent hunting and gathering is supposed to = more free time. Clearly, Maslow didn't consider commuting when he built his little pyramid.

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