To wax lyrical on the relative awesomeness of yesteryear whilst decrying all that is modern is a popular pastime for the silver haired folk who hark back to these halcyon times albeit through a clouded lens that hardly bears up to scrutiny.
Indeed it is unlikely that the word awesome is found in their vocabulary!
It’s an Urban Myth. The idyllic past inhabited by genial souls behind pristine picket fences who collectively interact in a pre Facebook form of connectivity is the stuff of romantic novelists.
Child labour, civil rights abuse, cultural insensitivity, profound poverty and an expectation that an attack on your tribe should earn you a conscription to bear arms-axe, bayonet or something equally blood curling, as you defend your own in face to face mortal combat –all seem less appetizing in hindsight!
Which brings me to a topic that seems rather trivial in comparison. Despite the aforementioned Urban Myth – I would suggest that some of the glue that binds society has been diluted due to the demise of…wait for it…common courtesy.
Actually rather uncommon courtesy! No I’m not referring to the stifling impotence of the characters of a Jane Austin novel, but rather that quaint habit of acknowledgment.
Call it a social nicety, or perhaps the act of being polite. Eye contact in public is discouraged. Should you hold a door open for someone under the age of 40 it will more often than not be unacknowledged.
Where once we were acutely aware of the science of moving in crowds, sub consciously anticipating the speed. Trajectory and width of all within a circumference of 20 metres, and instinctively would subtly adjust our route to accommodate – this apparently has been lost.
Attachment to an IPod, whilst editing status updates to Twitter and Facebook and adeptly juggling the ubiquitous cup of coffee apparently abdicates all responsibility to move in anything other than the shortest route to ones plotted destination!
There was once an art to small talk. The inability or reluctance to nod appropriately to a peer whilst fluently stating something obvious such as the state of the weather, with an engaging facial expression was very much frowned upon.
As social courtesies become less of normal societal protocol a price is paid. Societies become less friendly, interactions more testy, and anonymity can gradually manifest into the scourge of the 21st century –depression.
The health of societies often seem at their zenith during rebuilding periods between tragic adversities such as post war rebuilding, earthquakes, tsunami’s and so forth.
It would be good to wind back just a little to yesteryear when societies embraced its individual and were bonded by an accumulation of immeasurable gestures, smiles, and apologies for colliding.
Oh and of course that inane but strangely effective ritual of commenting on the weather. As the “Irish would say ‘Soft Day thank God!” which pretty much summed up any day other than a sunny one!!