The crush: I’m getting bored of incivility

I know it’s easy to complain about the various things that make big city living a challenge, but lately these things have been annoying me more than usual.

Thinking about it, the various annoyances have one thing in common: incivility.

What do I mean?

The seeming inability of many Londoners to think of those around them and moderate their own behaviour accordingly. This was thrown into sharp contrast by my latest visit to Tokyo, where it seems that consideration for those around you is a cornerstone of public behaviour.

I’ve found myself getting very wound up about Londoners’ behaviour lately, which I know isn’t good for me. So, in my own mind, I try to reappraise the situation and come up with a helpful explanation for others’ behaviour – to try to defuse the stress and anger in my head.

Some recent examples that have set my teeth grinding:

Fellow commuters pushing past me on public transport to get a seat, as if their lives depended on it. No “please”, no “excuse me”, just an elbow in the ribs. In my mind: perhaps they have a disability I can’t see and they really need that seat. Maybe they’re in pain.

Commuters holding loud phone conversations using speakerphone – as if they’re on a reality TV show. In my mind: maybe the stress they’re under at work means they have to share their hassles with a friend and they don’t realise how loud they’re being.

Cyclists flying along on the pavement, refusing to slow down when approaching pedestrians. Or cycling behind me, leaving mere inches between my heel and their front wheel. This is particularly annoying when there’s a dedicated cycle path right there. In my mind: maybe the cyclists are concerned about their own safety on the road and think it’s the lesser of two evils to keep on the pavement.

Motorists driving through red lights, turning pedestrian crossings into a form of street-side Russian roulette. Many of whom are on their mobile phones at the time. I’ve almost been mown down three times in the last month by chumps like this, all of whom have sped off without an apology. In my mind: maybe they’re dealing with a personal emergency and racing to something important.

Vapers blowing their disgusting output into my face as I walk past. Closely followed by smokers congregating by the very large ‘No Smoking’ signs that litter Canary Wharf. This turns my walk to and from the DLR into a foul-smelling slalom of smoke and spitting. In my mind: maybe a quick vape or cigarette is the only ray of sunshine they experience in their working day.

If this sounds like I want the world to change around my preferences, then I apologise. I’m quite sure I do things in public that might annoy others. I’m just asking for people to give a little thought to those around them as they go about their day. meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for more positive explanations for others’ behaviour.

And hopefully reduce my blood pressure in the process.

(Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash)

14 comments on “The crush: I’m getting bored of incivility

  1. ethnicolor

    One sees it everywhere… a public lack of consideration for others. Do people not expect civility and consideration shown to them? Is rudeness acceptable to them? If so, then we’ve truly lost a fundamental pillar of society. If not, *their* indignation at being shoved or irritated by others must be all the more depressing because it means they can’t empathise with the “man on the street” and there’s something worryingly sociopathic about such a society.

    It’s all about how badly people are brought up, IMHO.


    • I have to admit, I’ve definitely become ‘harder’ since moving to London 20yrs ago. I guess I’ve adjusted to the environment? That said, I regularly see small examples of people being wonderful to strangers. And I make a point of helping out lost tourists and mothers with buggies when I can. It’s just that sometimes, it all feels a bit much and I want a break…

      Liked by 1 person

      • ethnicolor

        It’s a downward spiral that needn’t be so, but to my (very, very jaded and cynical) world view, it’s just part of the dumbing-down that’s being sprayed about for the past 70 years. Meaner, dumber, more informed and yet less aware than ever before, the information society just means that people get more pap spat at them than ever before, and due to the effects of generations, less and less do they expect anything else. Celebrity gossip is now news, and (here’s the rub) actually bloody *matters*, heaven help us. I’m reading Andrew Hodges biography of Alan Turing whilst on holiday, and I keep thinking about the visions Turing had for computing machines, and about what we do today with devices far more advanced than even he dreamed of.

        I think all one can do is to stick to one’s principles (though they may never be reciprocated!) behave to others as you believe acceptable, and keep learning; perhaps even put some energy into imagining how things may improve.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re being incredibly nice with your inner justifications. Allow me to offer an alternative to each one of them… These people fucking suck. These people fucking suck. These people fucking suck. These people fucking suck. These people fucking suck. Perhaps blowing smoke into a stranger’s face is the one true sign that these people fucking SUCK.


    • ethnicolor

      Is this behaviour acceptable? Where does it come from? What is the root cause? If one was tasked with ‘fixing’ the problem, where would one start? If you don’t tackle the root cause, you never fix the problem.


      • I think a big element of it is the ‘me me me’ element to society now. Very individualistic, very success driven. Little thought for others. Plus people being absorbed in their private cocoons of smartphone plus earphones. It shields them somewhat from the impact of their actions. But I’m afraid I don’t have an easy or quick answer to this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • ethnicolor

          The answer isn’t easy, and certainly won’t be quick. I’m not a parent nor will ever be. However I see very young kids with their parents, in all kinds of public locations, running rampant without a single bit of correction or a even a warning. Maybe it’s a very old fashioned idea that kids should be firmly handled, but how else do you get manners into kids? Good manners and civility clearly have to be taught, but I for one believe they *should* be taught, to kids, and at the earliest possible age, therefore by parents.

          One of my best friends is a secondary school teacher in Ireland, and the stories he tells just shock me; and not of kids per se, but the attitude of their parents. I usually end up thinking “explains a lot.”

          Until we have a better way, good manners, civility, respect and an innate sense of “acceptable” should be drilled into kids from day one. Here endeth the lesson!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. ethnicolor

    Hey – I just noticed; no one in that photo has a phone! They’re all reading paper books or nothing at all. How did a photographer get a tube carriage (looks like a Piccadilly-line Tube at Bank) without a single visible phone?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel your pain. Your list of annoyances is pretty similar to mine actually. I used to think bad behaviour was the minority but in reality good (or respectful) is rarely seen these days. Or maybe we’re both becoming crumpy old men?!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I was conducting pat searches on my workers as they left today, it occurred to me a fart would certainly be off-putting fore but celebratory for them.

    I suggest working on farting-on-command for these instances.

    Liked by 1 person

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