My home pc is getting crankier and more passive aggressively belligerent by the day, so I'm sitting in an internet cafe in my neighbourhood. It's filled with the usual mix of Newtownians; a couple of gay boys, some hipster chicks, an old guy checking his emails, and a middle aged woman looking for accommodation online while her dog whines outside on the street. It's really cheap, up to 3 hours of web surfing for $4.40, and consequently pretty busy.
I've come in here a couple of times now over the past week, and each time I've been struck by the behaviour of some people. I mean this is no hushed shrine, no scholarly library or place of learning, but people are trying to do their own thing and concentrate on whatever they are looking at on the web. Yet, loud mobile phone calls, chatting with a friend at a computer across the room, or singing to oneself all seem to be perfectly natural behaviours.
Gah, I sound like an old curmudgeon. Especially because it seems to mostly be the youngsters that have the worst disregard for anyone else. I'm turning into that guy, the one that shoots you a withering look for constantly drumming your fingers on the table, or feels like chiming in to say that maybe Stephanie would enjoy your conversation about Nick more if you took that phone outside.
Is it ageing that's making me notice this stuff more? (And don't even get me started on going to the cinema these days.) Have people become less aware or interested in whether they are bothering others? Or so used to being isolated in their own iPod surround sound cocoons, or watching DVDs at home, that they can sit in a public space and behave like they are in their own home? Or do they fundamentally just not give a toss?