Saturday, March 10, 2012

Humans Behaving Oddly

I'll be back on the planes in a couple of days, going back to Bangkok. Flying is always interesting, and commercial flying is a wonderful laboratory of human behavior. Maybe it's the underlying stress of trusting the unequal pressure on the wings to carry the plane at six or seven miles above the earth, at five-hundred miles per hour. Whatever it is, it brings out something in people.

What I see very often is that there is a lot of perceived winning going on, many activities are reduced to little contests between fliers. For example:

We all got off the plane in Taipei and set off for the gate where we would catch the flight to L.A. It was like a land rush, a high stakes race, winner take all. I stand still on the inevitable long moving sidewalks unless there is any time pressure, in this case there was none. Everyone was rushing past me, and if they were blocked by a small group they bulled their way past. Some eschewed the devices entirely, preferring to run next to them. There was no reason for this, it would be two hours until the next plane took off. Somehow it was important to some of my fellow passengers to get there first, or among the first.

And watching several hundred people rush to be boarded first, before their rows are called, cutting into lines, as though it were a game of musical chairs, is always discouraging for me. The plane would take off, with everyone, at the same time, all bags would be stowed, and no one would be left in Taiwan, these are certainties.

What could make people so desperate to validate themselves like this? Life shouldn't be an incredibly complex series of constant, small contests.

We should just relax, and let judgment come when it will, if at all.

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