Friday, September 19, 2008

People are Weird

People are weird.
That's no great shock, of course. But I'm confronted with weirdness everywhere I go. Weirdnesses large and small compete for my attention, while all around me, hordes of people walk right on by, occasionally rubbing their very noses in the weirdness without even catching a whiff of it.
It starts young: parents hustling their kids to activity after activity, gobbling up every minute of their childhoods in an obscene headlong rush to turn them into adults. These are the same parents who complain bitterly about how stressed their lives are, yet they see nothing odd in inflicting that same stress on their children.
There's been an increased number of shootings on the streets of Toronto lately. Predictably, the mayor's calling once again for a ban on handguns. He does this every time there's a handgun murder, and his supporters eat it up, knowing as they do that criminals can be counted on to respect any ban that's put in place.
Teenagers spend huge chunks of their lives surfing what are called "social networking sites". Orwell would have been proud: you can't get much more antisocial that typing alone in a dark room. Mention that to them and they'll look at you as if you're the freak.
Staying with the computer for a minute, practically everything is a model of inefficiency. From the keyboard (QWERTY is an ancient relic of the earliest typewriters, and is vastly inferior to the DVORAK layout), to the mouse (which forces you to abandon your keyboard, find the cursor, and calibrate every time you need to use it), to the Windows operating system itself (MEMORY HOG), nothing is as it should be. But most of us are happy with it all, anyway, and look at those few folks trying to fix what's clearly broken as meddlesome oddballs.
Go out to your car, and check out the accelerator/brake pedal configuration. Try to look at it as if you've never really noticed it before. To apply the brake, you must lift your foot up--quite a bit, actually--move it left a certain distance, and then lower it. From brake to accelerator is ever so much simpler: let your foot fall off that brake pedal.
That's ass-backwards. Suppose you didn't mean to "let" your foot slip. Instead of coming to a quick halt and maybe having some jackass who was following too close damage your back bumper, you'll inadvertently hit the gas and plow into that crowd of pedestrians, quite possibly killing somebody.
That's just fundamentally shitty design. And everyone accepts it, just like they accept the computer.
It goes on and on. We bitch and moan about how Wal-Mart's destroying small towns, but when one opens up, the parking lot's always full. 
Fashion: some guy you've never heard up comes up to you. Psst, hey, buddy. You know, you're lookin' good, there. But I can make you look better. Suppose I let you wear my name on your shirt. Nice big letters, so everyone can see it. You'll become a walking billboard for me. Isn't that great?
Uh, no,  you say. What's in it for me?
Absolutely NOTHING! comes the reply. Except, well, people will like you better. I guarantee it. AND, my shirts cost a fortune! So they must be good. Right? Right?
And you reach for your wallet. Because you're sophisticated. Look up that word's just a few pages from "sucker".

In a weird world, it's the mundanes who are strange.

1 comment:

Rocketstar said...

Gas/Brake pedal, I never thought about it. Right on.

Yeah, humans are a screwed up lot.