"Walking in Large Crowds and the Decline of Western Civilization"
Many times in my life I have noticed that people in crowds are often insufferable. I don't think that it is too difficult to figure out why, simply that it is an extension of who we have become being played out around the rest of us.
Have you ever noticed that wherever you try to work your way through a large gathering of people it quickly becomes a survival effort? You go with the flow and someone is walking directly at you, and you dodge at the last second to safety. Or you find people with no sense of the fact that other people are walking beside them, leading them to migrate into your path without ever knowing of your existence. Or you follow a moving line when someone sees something shiny on the ground and STOPS (smack dab in the middle of everything!) to admire it, leaving you to the pile up of human bodies lying in the wake.
The most extreme version of this I have encountered came one fateful November day in 2002, when trying to navigate the Frankfurt airport. Upon reaching the top of the escalator, many people would take the one-step-off and come to a complete stop in order to determine their next direction. Hello! Top of an escalator!! Keep the line moving!!!
So, what's up with all that? I believe it originates in the individual's inability to see the world as it exists outside of themselves. Now, this isn't meant to say that these folks have no concept of the world around them. They do. They have laptops and PDAs and cellphones and friends and interests in those shiny things on the ground. My point is that we have lost a sense that there are things (esp. people) around us even when they aren't presently affecting our existence at that moment. And that is where it is hard.
Even more problematic is that we have also made the inane decision to give most of these individuals a license to drive a motor vehicle. But that is for another day.