Travelling on the MTR these days, I feel like an extra in a zombie movie.

Unsmiling fellow passengers stare downwards, earphones in, eyes glazed. Hooked into social-networking worlds, their fingers move at impossible speeds over minute touch screens. At any moment, they look as if they might start marching down the carriage - arms outstretched in front of them as they seek out human flesh - at the command of Apple HQ in IFC Mall.

What the hell has happened to simple human interaction in this city? There must be other social dinosaurs left in Hong Kong who can remember that old-fashioned, pre-digital stuff we used to do before we started plugging into our own exclusive parallel universes. You know: conversation, shaking hands, hugging, kissing, making eye contact, laughing, even exchanging the time of day. It was what differentiated a city from a poorly designed mass of concrete with air pollution.

Now look at us. In romantic restaurants, adoring couples no longer gaze lovingly into each other's eyes over candlelight but stare blankly into their iPads. Celebrations and parties are reduced to watching irritating groups of people taking photographs of themselves so that remote friends can see exactly what a great time they're having. Once vibrant cafes are silent but for the patter of solitary types tapping away on laptops.

Tragically, it seems all the magic and mystery of human interaction that once pulsated through this city has been reduced to bandwidth.

Illustration: a yip