If you would ask whether I, being essentially a twentieth century man, love to live now, my answer will be affirmative. Actually I intend to go on breathing till I’m ninety. At least. Because we are going through exiting times. Technologically, culturally, socially, politically, economically, well, just make your pick. On the other hand, to be honest I’m afraid gradually I’m growing out of step with modernity. The truth is staring me right in the face: most people love parts of modern life I dislike. Let’s face it, I’m a grumpy old man now. Sometimes.
A few examples.
Take good taste.
I guess the first time I got that nauseating feeling was when I saw Big Brother on TV for the first time. And the last time for that matter. Since that tasteless disaster happened the stupidity of similar formats on TV is the common rule. In literature things also seem to go downhill. Just look at the huge success of woolly and vague books in the Paulo Coelho style. Or worse than that. Isn’t it significant that E.L. James’ “Fifty shade of Grey” proved to be a box office champion. And look at the turn the pop-scene took. Since it headed for Techno, Trance and Hip-Hop it’s all beat, no harmony. That doesn’t make me happy either. And now, last Saturday the “the woman with the beard” from Austria won the European Song Festival by popular vote. Camp in stead of pop-music.
There’s a process going on which might result in a travesty of good taste. It’s a repulsive but irresistible premonition.
Next item for prosecution, “Mother’s Day”. Which we, eh, let’s say celebrated yesterday in this part of the world.
Yeah, I also loved my mother dearly. But actually I think the yearly event is a painful anachronism. A commercial celebration of degrading clichés on women. A commercial exploitation of the latter part of the obsolete dichotomy of ‘either whore or holy’. A feast of prejudices one might hope were in the past forever now. Such as ‘women belong in bed and the kitchen, except for mothers’ (who of course are beyond any criticism). It’s the weird echo of a once prevailing but no longer usual division of family labour, in which only the wife carried the burden of the household and the education of the children. A performance for which her children would forever have to endow her with tokens of gratefulness, regardless of the quality of that education.
And so is smartphone etiquette. Or rather the lack of it.
Peculiar. I belong to the sixties and it’s preference for casual clothing and informal behaviour. So I never cared much for etiquette. However times are changing. Because if you want to discuss the worries of daily life or tell anecdotes about one’s grandchildren today, people keep looking down to check their little displays. They seem not to pay real attention to what you say. Most of time they very aptly text their messages to someone you only can guess about, while all the time you elaborately try to explain why they should try this or that delicacy. Or ask their advice on some ailment, some mishap, some love you fear to suffer from. No doubt about it, since technology is in, genuine conversation is out. Except of course when someone happened to have bought the newest gadget for hipsters the other day. That, for a short period of time, may spark some old fashioned exchange of thoughts and opinions. Which, that goes without saying, usually only adds to my discontent.
It’s sad but true, I often feel ill at ease seeing modern electro-technical communication prevailing over traditional communication at social gatherings . I want the immediate return of etiquette. Or rather the introduction of good old fashioned etiquette in the world of smartphone -users. Electronics should be ‘not done’ while in company of others. We should focus on the ones present. Show interest. Not be disturbed by the absent ones.
But is there still hope for less commercial rubbish, for better taste and less smartphone terrorism?
Yes there is. By way of a one-man protest-movement I refuse to carry such a devilish Apple -or other brand- product on me as long as that etiquette is not the rule. And I will thoroughly teach my grandchildren to distinguish between quality and rubbish :).