I have read that “Public transport has been made more bearable by mobile devices – phones, iPads, Kindles, etc.”. And it’s true. While sitting on a train you can do a lot more than when you are stuck in traffic at the wheel of a car or waiting in an airport for the next (delayed) flight. It feels productive. But the statement got me thinking… what does this really mean? What are the implications? Why is it more bearable?
- More bearable… because you no longer have to be in the present. Instead of being in the moment, people can play games, read (and re-read) the news, or read book.
- More bearable… because you don’t realise how bad the transport situation is. If the train is late, never mind, you’ve something to do while you wait. You can’t do anything about it after all.
- More bearable… because you only hear the news you want to. Media outlets want to keep you reading their news so that they can sell more to you. How do they do this? Provide you with the news you want to hear. Not the news you should hear. For example, if you had money in Cyprus would you want to hear what was going to happen before the banks closed and took your money.
- More bearable… because you can’t work out what is the real news. Most of the news is poorly written re-hashed news items from dubious sources (e.g. Twitter, Press Releases, “the internet”,…) Some journalists simply write the same thing three or four times in the same article to make it longer. What was the real point though?
- More bearable… because we become frightened by the world around us. The world is a bad place: just look at all these things going on elsewhere. Better keep your head down, don’t rock the boat otherwise bad things might happen to you too.
- More bearable… because thought is no longer required. It’s easier to simply do what you are told. Don’t think, just follow the person in front as they follow the person in front of them… if you don’t think you never realise things could be better.
So should it be more bearable? Should we simply accept what we are told rather than think about what we want and how things could be better?
For example, there could be a debate about whether the airports should be extended from Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane – one of the busiest routes in the world. “Of course they should.” comes the unthinking answer. What about the alternative option that costs about the same – a rail link? It would be quicker (2.5 hours from Melbourne to Sydney), transfer more people, transfer goods as well and be more environmentally considerate. Ahhh say the talking heads: “That’s too European.”, “The distances are too great.”, etc. (Neither of these are true unless you don’t think about it). If you think about it then it is clear the way to go. Or you could let someone else decide.
Certainly our Lords and Masters would like us to spend more time not thinking. They can make decisions as they see fit. Want an airport? “Of course sir.” Serfs who simply do as they are told are much easier to rule and extract money from. They will remain serfs forever.