They’ve taken the fun out of everything.
My mother said that to me the other day shortly after I arrived at her house in the United States, after flying across the Atlantic Ocean from England.
Her comment was a response to my tales about going through airport security and the quality of service on the plane.
Yes, it was a bit of a generalisation from those specific events and I’m not absolutely sure who ‘they’ are, but her words hit home because they summed up how I often feel about the modern world.
The thing is, I don’t like feeling that way so one of the reasons I’m writing about this problem now is to sort it out in my head before I become a ‘when-we’.
That’s one of those people who thinks everything was better in the old days that starts every other sentence with, ‘when we…’ When we were your age; when we were running the show; that kind of thing.
There have been massive developments during my life and I’ve probably benefited from them more than most people.
I have a high-tech artificial disc in my back that gives me full mobility and here I am filing my column for The Voice via the internet from New Jersey; amazing.
It’s just that many things that used to be fun have lost some of their magic because they are now dominated by fear and in many cases security companies and others are profiting from that change.
I was prepared for an officious experience at the airport and I think I remained polite as a series of officials asked me if I was carrying any weapons and if I had a bomb in my luggage.
I lost my serenity, however, when the guard who had just patted me down turned friendly and tried to engage in a bit of small talk.
I didn’t say anything nasty, but I couldn’t manage to be friendly in return even though the guy probably thought he was just doing his job.
He had picked me out of a line as a likely criminal and performed a personalised search, but now that I’d passed his test I was supposed to think that was okay.
Sorry, but I don’t. It’s all so confrontational; us and them.
I got that same feeling from the cabin crew while we were in the air.
In the old days they acted as if they were there to serve the airline’s paying customers, but now it feels like their job is to herd passengers along as efficiently as possible.
Service is a thing of the past. I’d already paid P7000 for an international flight, but it would have cost another P40 for a beer or small bottle of wine to go with my meal.
It’s all about making money.
And that, I think, is the root of the problem. As we have progressed materially in the developed world, we seem to have become more selfish and lost our sense of community.
I’m not saying making money or progress are bad things, it’s just that I think we need to balance our pursuit of material gains with an increased awareness of others, if we wish to improve the quality of our lives.
If we could do that, then I think everyone would be better off and more things would continue to be fun.