It probably won’t surprise you to know that there are things about our modern times that really piss me off. Today, I am going to talk about these, so if you’re not interested in the grumblings of a middle-aged, hormonal woman, look away now. However, if you fancy a bit of a sweary whinge about how often people in modern, western societies act like pricks, pull up a chair!
Before we go on, note that I freely admit to having passed through the doorway to middle age. So certain stuff about how the young ‘uns do things these days are alien to me and have me tutting and shaking my head. Like all older folk, I look back at the past and recognise that while lots of things are better, a hell of a lot of them are worse. When you start to feel that way, I reckon that’s the moment you know your youth is fully gone.
That’s not always a bad thing, just a statement of fact. And quite a few of the things on my list are nothing to do with young people, but adults in general. Obviously, there are big, systemic problems like Brexit, the rise of fascism and being ‘governed’ by the most selfish, shittiest bawbags in the history of modern times. I’m not talking about them today, although there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a connection between the shoddy manners of modern life and the election of greedy, entitled arseholes to our modern western governments.
I also reserve the right to add to or remove from this list at any time of my choosing. I’ve also put this list in alphabetical order of annoyance, rather than grading their importance, because the grading of annoyance fluctuates from day to day and is dependent on circumstances. It’s random; just a current selection of things that rip my knitting on a regular basis. Let the grumbling commence!
- Americanisation of language. Okay, this is not a new one. This has been a creeping thing for decades, but it seems to have reached a point where, for me, it feels like cultural eradication. Halloween is good recent example. Our long tradition in Scotland was to go out dressed up for ‘guising’. You had to do a turn (joke, song, dance etc) to get your sweeties, (or swedgers, in the even more delightful Glaswegian vernacular) although monkey nuts and satsumas were always a risk. My nine year old talks about candy and trick or treat. They still expect a wee joke or something round my way, so guising isn’t dead. But I bristle every time I hear the word candy. Excessive use of the word ‘like’, ‘my bad’ and other various grammatically-disastrous disorders can get in the sea. Along with all the other bollocks, such as hiring limos for tiny kids to go to prom, baby showers and gender reveal parties. Because let’s face it, these American ideas seem mostly to be about everyone spending more money on life’s natural transitions, or making people feel that they should spend money they don’t have, in order to keep up.
- Behaviour on buses (but also includes trains or any other public transport). No, we do not want to hear your music/TV show/porn clip that you are watching on your phone. You need to use headphones that are not fucking tinny, or leaking your shit taste all over the top deck of the 38 bus. Since when did it become a thing that it was okay to watch and listen to stuff out loud on public transport? Seriously, get to fuck. Just stop it now. Similarly, your intimate phone conversation about your finances, or a loud argument with someone on your mobile? No. Just tell them that you’ll call them back when you have some privacy. Then the rest of us poor bastards don’t have to hear it before we start our working day. Oh, and while you’re at it, get your bag off the seat, stop manspreading and just get off the seat and give it to that old man with the walking stick.
- Cancelled culture. My job is about equalities and it’s something I’m passionate about. And there are clearly people with an agenda that is about white, male supremacy, who believe everyone else can be trampled underfoot in their power plays for wealth. These are dangerous people and I’m glad that the world is awake to them. But there are lots of other people who are just unaware and uneducated, and say stupid, ill-informed things with no real agenda and make mistakes like we all do. These are the people whose minds can be changed, but not if they get exorcised in a Twitter pile on. I spend my days challenging equalities issues, but I baulk at the way that people interact with each other online, with reputations ruined in a day. Obama says exactly what I am thinking here. I get that young folk are angry and are rightly calling out the patriarchy on social media. But ostracising white pop stars with dreadlocks, for example, isn’t going to get us anywhere. Especially as dreads have existed in many white, tribal cultures too. There are more things that unite us than divide us. If someone is an unrepentant, deliberate arse, then I figure the less attention you give them, the better. For the rest of them, is ‘cancelling’ them really the answer? Social media allows an instantaneous response with access to people directly. It also gives power to semi-anonymous, keyboard warriors to abuse and threaten others online and it makes me feckin’ sad.
- Gym clothes as everyday wear. We’ve all done it from time to time, especially as the clothes can be so comfy, but there are so many more lovely clothes out there, begging to be worn. There’s nothing wrong with althleisure wear per se, but I’m just not a fan of seeing so much of people’s crotches in the bright light of day. Wearing leggings without coverage of the arse is just not a good look, unless you’re actually exercising, when anything goes. Except for men: no matter what, please wear a baggy short over your lycra, I’m begging you. I guess I’m slightly prudish when it comes to clothes and style. I love 1920s-50s fashions, where men wore hats and women could be rebels just by putting on a pair of trousers. Clothes can be sexy and fabulous without putting it all out there. A bit of mystery is surely a good thing.
- Modern menus. I don’t eat out that much these days, but when I do, I yearn to see a simple description of something delicious and tasty that I don’t have to quiz the waiter over because I’ve never heard of the ingredients. And I don’t care if the salt is crushed, hand gathered by artisan fishermen, or sourced from a Galician mermaid’s tail. It’s just salt, for fucks sake. Serve it.
- Smart phones. Obviously, they are brilliant and it’s a bloody miracle that we have all this information in the back pocket of our jeans. I grew up before the digital age and we could never have imagined this world of easy access to knowledge; I love my smart phone and use it for so many things. But I am also capable of talking to friends in the pub without it and I don’t walk the streets with my face in it, thereby causing danger to other pedestrians and cyclists. Put your phone down people. Walk in the world and watch where you’re going. We all know our addiction to smart phones isn’t good for us, so take time without it.
I could have added a load of other stuff to this list, e.g. dating apps, then realised that they deserve their own post. I wanted to add parking, because I live in a flat in an area where it’s a relentless problem. There are too many cars for our streets and some people think it’s okay to park on the pavement, or block the roads, presumably because they are selfish and entitled. But thinking about parking just makes me a bit ranty. I’ll save any further ire-inducing topics for another day.
I’m not sure if there is a common thread in all of this, but if there is, it’s people not thinking about others in general society very much. You might treat your friends and family well, but care nothing for the concerns of strangers. Talking about the importance of manners makes me feel my age. But for me, manners aren’t a rigid, snobby, contrivance or about being correct. They’re about courtesy and respect for your fellow humans. You should always check behind you to hold a door for everyone, not just for women. And think about whether your behaviour, including who you vote for, is really making life pretty shit for everyone else.
Until next time,