"One of the hardest things about going out in public is this crippling awareness of the other person's selfishness," I said, once the noise from two tables over subsided to a level where I no longer had to shout. We'd been making exasperated faces at each other while a woman held court over a handful of her friends. It wouldn't have been so bad if I'd been able to make out anything she'd been saying, and rightly I should have—the volume with which she'd screeched out her tale had been high enough to be heard in the next province—but it had been an incoherent babble spiked with raucous, cackling laughter.
"I know what you mean," my companion said, and I wondered if she really did. So many simple little disturbances of the public calm set me off. I'd wondered where we'd gone wrong, in this society that no longer was one. Community had been replaced by a collection of introverted people who were so far up their own asses that they could barely acknowledge the strangers around them. Had it been the technology, or the fear? Or maybe it was that we'd moved inexorably into a future of isolated individual aestheticism through selfies and carefully managed online personalities? Common courtesies had become so uncommon that it was legendarily rare to have someone actually look out for you without a hint of self-interest.
And was I even much of an anomaly? Were there fewer and fewer people caring about each other, or were we all now caring from behind raised psychic walls; walls that kept us from acting—correcting and managing our environments so as to maintain some semblance of civility and respect?
In a world of our own making, we died silently screaming for peace.
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