Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Angry stomping people

Stomp (ST's purported "citizen journalism" site) fascinates me. Most of the so-called stories are little more than the tattletales of small-minded people ratting out on other people's petty misdemeanours in public -- with pictures. Yet it's a daily visit for me because the small-town gossip is just too compelling to pass up. It's almost a competition to see if the current story could possibly be any worse than the previous one.

There are few better examples of global village technology being used to perpetuate just the village. Everyone's minding everybody's else's business, airing everybody's dirty linen in public, expecting some authority or other to solve the problem for everyone. And then bemoaning how ineffectual the authorities are going about it. Tsk, tsk.

I'm not suggesting we should take the law into our own hands, enacting mob justice on every instance of loutish behaviour we encounter. I'm saying we should allow some flexibility in administering the written social rules rather than complain so loudly every time people are not slavishly adhering to them. It's quite vindictive, some of the entries, as if posted to spite someone else because the contributor isn't allowed to do the same thing.

Maybe it's all just in the eye of the beholder, 'cos on the rare occasions that I have used public transport (for example) I have yet to encounter any of that 'inconsiderate' behaviour that gets featured every day on Stomp ad nauseam. What I have encountered are clear pathways on escalators shared between walkers and non-walkers, or when there is a blockage, a polite "excuse me" more often than not has the effect of parting the Red Sea. In the trains, people are popping up and down like so many jacks-in-the-box offering their seats to people who vaguely look like they might appreciate the seat more. It's even a bit embarrassing how polite they try to be with the old and infirm, the pregnant and the child-laden.

If people eat and drink on the train, as long as they show some personal responsibility in clearing up after themselves, then there shouldn't be a problem. People are hungry, people are tired, but just because there are written rules doesn't mean we as fellow commuters cannot be more understanding and accommodating with each other.

I am now very cautious when taking the MRT. With all these camera-happy Stomp contributors around, I worry that one day my unflattering photo will appear on that infamous website with the complaint that some young whippersnapper should be giving his seat up to me instead of hogging it for himself and his $#%* ice-cream cone. I could never live that down.

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