Party line

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 Maybe it’s a form of narcissism that induces people, mostly younger and mostly female it seems, to carry on long, loud phone conversations in public places, such as in train carriages, walking down the street or in crowded cafes. It’s worse still if, as not uncommonly, the phone is set on speaker mode and we are subjected to both ends of an inane conversation.

Too much information! Do we really need to know all about their hook-up last night, how drunk they got, what a bitch so-and-so is, what they had for dinner? On a train one afternoon from Fremantle to Perth a young woman regaled the whole carriage for an hour with all the sordid details of a party she’d been to the previous night.

Such unwanted intimacy! It’s like being forced to watch unattractive strangers having sex. Have they no shame, no modesty, let alone manners?

Do they really think that we care about the soapbox dramas of their lives? We don’t.

Do they have such inflated egos that they think we should actually care or that our own lives might be enriched by being party to a discussion about their menstrual cycle?

Perhaps they feel somehow entitled to burden complete strangers with the trivia or petty scandals of their existences.

Privacy is no longer valued as it was, and still is, by, (dare I say it), older people. Neither is the privacy of others respected.

Such crass, selfish, immodest behaviour is a gross intrusion into the personal space of those forced to endure it. Quiet carriages in trains are a great idea. Perhaps all carriages should be made quiet. Talking drivel in a loud voice in a public place should incur a fine, like smoking.

I suspect it’s a function of modern living, shared housing, FaceBooking, Twitter; the seemingly universal compulsion to document and share everything about one’s humdrum existence, in an effort make it seem, somehow, to be be of more significance.

 As the world has become more crowded, living space smaller and less private, people have become more concerned with, and more assertive, it seems, about their ever-shrinking private spheres, pressing against the shrinking boundaries of all that defines their identities, pushing their personal envelopes, screaming at the world “What about me?” On the phone. In the bus.

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