April A-to-Z: a celebration of the automobile! (if you’re the Devil)
Motoring is a lot like the internet.
Just as faceless internet users, be they trolls or often-nice-only-occasional trolls (and I should say “we”, not “they”) sit behind computer screens or cell-o-phones or whatever all you technofolks are using these days, sealed behind a barrier of anonymity, tenuously interacting with one another on the information highway, so do the faceless motorists interact on the oily black highway, sealed within their own metal boxes of anonymity.
When we bump into strangers in the store, on the hiking trail, in an elevator, at a large party perhaps, and with some cause to interact, face to face, eye to eye, we find that ninety nine per cent of the time, we are kind to one another; polite by default, demonstrating that we are nice people; respectful; deserving of our good reputations.
And whether we behave this way because we’re just plain super duper or because we depend on that reputation; that social currency, is a question not often pondered it seems; not aloud anyway. Much safer to just assume we’re indeed super and duper.
Yet if we’re so super duper, why then is the internet a giant cesspool of deplorability? Why are YouTube comments an endless litany of stupidity, hate-mongering and reckless, mindless insult and accusation?
And why are half the drivers on the road so evidently selfish; loathing to share the road; not bothering to signal intentions, intent on one’s entitlement, blind to opportunities to more effectively use the road to everyone’s advantage; openly resentful of other drivers’ presence? Where did the ninety nine per cent rule go? And on the semi-frequent occasions where drivers are polite to one another, gracious and deferential as I will boast I most often am, are we doing so out of love for our human brothers, or to cajole our own ego, to assure ourselves that we must be super duper?
Again I will boast that I do so out of the former causality, but only sometimes and only since the latter quarter of my life.
The automobile, if I may indulge, is a window to the soul of sorts: this is how we behave when there are no social consequences. This is who we are when no one sees our face. And as I look around at rows of the immovable; intent on owning one’s lane, one’s right of way; adjusting only to further one’s own interest and almost never in order to provide opportunity to another… the view is rarely flattering.