Saturday, 1 December 2007

Weekend Column; iCommuting and the istare




We Capitalists do from time to time have to travel too and from the office (except the end of this week for me which is quarter end and when you work for a US corporate you can forget going home to much, anyway, I digress).

Recently certain activities have begun to get to me, they are everyday run of the mill things, but as happens to many people I assume, a slow drip-drip effect can build annoyance within as you take a minor irritation and becomes a full blown irritant and finally reaches the point where you consider unlawful actions to make your point to the offender.

For me, this drip-drip is the growing need to commute with the istare generation. Whereas generally in the recent past men read papers and women read books whilst stuck on our crowded commuter trains, now anyone under 30 (or 40 for those with personality crisis issues) instead travels with just their beloved ipod and mobile phone. Soon these will be the same item no doubt.

What gets to me is not generally actually being on a train or bus with people listening to music, it is quite rare that they volume is so loud as to be annoying. The vacant istare can be a little off-putting, but is of no harm. A personal take of mine is that if you simply listen passively to music rather than read something you are wasting a valuable part of the day's few minutes of solitude; but this is their choice to make.

No, the hazardous part is the exit from any transport and the walking to one's office.

For ensconced in a world of their own, shorn of their aural perception, icommuters merrily push you in the back, nudge you to one side, amble along and step out in front of you. The more traditional commuters, papers downed and concentrating on the small task of exiting a station platform, have no such problems. the i-stare remains the same as they happily trundle along, oblivious of all around them. heaven help too when their oyster card does not work or some other such mishap. the travel from istare back to reality seems to take at least a minute of dumb-faced bewilderment, causing more delay for everyone else. And let's face it , it is not exactly likely that one's train or bus was on time in the first place, is it?

So for any i-starer's reading, enjoy life pleasures as you see fit, but perhaps time to be a little more considerate to others.

sigh. that feels much better....


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of some old books:

Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissm" (1979) - http://www.amazon.com/Culture-Narcissism-American-Diminishing-Expectations/dp/0393307387

Philip Slater's "The Pursuit of Loneliness" (1970) - http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Loneliness-Philip-Slater/dp/0807042013

... and, oddly enough, Frank Herbert's sci-fi novel "Dune" (1965), in which (as a throwaway detail) the palace guards relieve the monotony of their work by being high on drugs and listening to music through earphones attached to their portable music devices - 15 years before the appearance of the Sony Walkman.

Perhaps it's not too fanciful to say that part of Tony Blair's appeal was to the nascent narcissist in all of us. He was, as it were, President of the National Society of Solipsists.

Sackerson said...

PS: I like "istare": yours?

Old BE said...

Listening to music does make one feel slightly detached from one's surroundings. I've noticed an upsurge in shoving and general thoughtlessness on the tube but hadn't connected the two things.

I avoid the vacant stare on the tube by closing my eyes.

Nick Drew said...

Praise be, I do not have to commute any longer !

Mark Wadsworth said...

too and from the office ... you can forget going home to much

Sorry, "to and from" and "too much".

Anonymous said...

"a US corporate": I wonder why Americans nounify adjectives so often.

CityUnslicker said...

Sackerson- istare is mine as far as I know!

Richard Elliot said...

I was right with you on the second paragraph. I thought you were about to write a blistering expose about how irritating working in an investment bank can be. I was feeling enormous amounts of empathy.

I don't encounter many irriting istares on my cycle to work. It's just the job that gets me down......

CityUnslicker said...

Welcome Richard, I don't work in an investment bank and never have. I work in The City more in the geographical sense...

hatfield girl said...

Dune's always popping up S, it isn't odd at all. ND quoted Homer in a comment once and I was convinced it was from Dune. Newmania laughed and laughed.

Steven_L said...

I hated the rat race when I was in London. I found the 50 minutes each way I spent on the overland and then underground trains each morning slowly ate away at my soul and twisted my perception of human nature. I was so averse to rush hour that every night after work, instead of going home, I would find a nice place to get drunk whilst the commuters drained away back to the suburbs.

Naer-empty tube trains are so much nicer, you can stretch out your legs, enjoy a cold can of lager or perhaps a doner kebab whilst the stragglers pass disapproving glances in your direction.

I drive to work these days, as I work 12pm - 8pm shifts the roads aren't even busy. Somehow I am starting to miss the hustle and bustle I hated so much in London.

I am in fact toying with the idea of moving back down.

jmb said...

iStare. I love it. Somehow they can't do two things at once, like read and listen? I read and listen to the iPod on the treadmill at the gym. Definitely possible even for the age challenged.

Newmania said...

Its not just the spooon fed music CU its the spoon fed everything , I wrote on this recently . People should play music and write poetry and paint and play sport and ingeneral participate

Everything has to be fed like baby gloop and it turns people into spiritual cripples . I can only recommend you consider the god like being that years of faffing around have turned me into for proof of my thesis (um....)

Newmania said...

Newmania laughed and laughed.


In a kind way. I prefer Dune to Homer and have even read the posthumous and awful prequels . Shame

Anonymous said...

Almost as annoying (but perhaps not quiteas dangerous) as drivers using cell phones at 60mph.

Nick Drew said...

Yes, Dune over Homer - you and HG both, eh Mr Mania ?

*more laughter offstage*

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