Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Modern Guide to existing

I must mention the 'bus transport for dummies' system that seems to be in full force in this part of the world. Once upon a time it used to be a very complex affair of getting on, finding the least insane person you can to sit next to, and getting off at your stop. However, the helpful people at the transport service thought they could simplify things a bit by providing lots of aggreeively informative Situation? Solution! PSA notices everywhere you care to look.

Now while I am all for these crazy modern innovations that tell me such useful stuff as where I am and where I'm going, notices such as 'get on at the front, get off at the back, its logical!' seem too painfully obvious to bear mentioning, 'a backpack? better in the hand!'(what, and deprive myself of the joy of whacking fellow commuters in the face with my dangling straps?) 'a pregnant/old/childladen person needs a seat? be nice!' and what has to be my all time favourite 'bulky packages? avoid them!' (aka 'you don't have a car and you need to move something bulky? Don't use public transport!')
(as a side note, buses in London by contrast lack any information whatsoever, from the useful to the downright imperative - such as where you are and where you need to get off. In an effort to avoid more public intreatction than is necessary, bus drivers seem to respond to most questions with no, which as a number of high court judges would be thrilled to hear, often means yes.

This dumbing down of almost every facet of life that people in the western world undertake is something I'm noticing more and more often. Supermarkets have been transformed into a 'guide to living' in Australia with such useful ideas as 'don't leave your children unattended' on the supermarket trollies, and 'eat 7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day' in the fresh produce department (as an amateur global roamer, I'll just mention here that recommended fruit and veg per day portions is not actually standard across the western world).

Once upon a time, this guide to getting along used to be the domain of parables, myths and epic tales (for what was Beowulf if not a warning against the perils of excessive drinking?) however these have since been divided and relegated to their separate quarters of 'myths', 'fairy tales' and 'religion'. The Martha Stewart bible of the future could have a helpful hints section: 'unexpected guests? Turn water into wine!' 'scrumptious festive fare, loaves and fishes for the christmas masses!'

Anyway, provided you know how to read, you'll find that the modern guide to living is written down all around you. No excuse for being confused.

No comments: