DRMacIver's Notebook

Walls of people

Walls of people

There’s an idea from Jungian psychology that traits that piss you off more than you would endorse often come from traits you reject in yourself - things that you would, on some level, like to be able to do, but feel like it would be bad or not allowed.

I don’t think this is always true, but the overwhelming majority of the time I treat it as true there’s an “Ah… fuck.” realisation that comes after.

Anyway, one thing that pisses me off to an irrational degree is people in tube stations who just stand around obliviously in the way, dawdling around uselessly in the most inconvenient places as if they didn’t have a moral obligation to be constantly anxiously monitoring their environment and themselves in order to avoid inconveniencing other people. Monsters.

I’m sure there’s nothing to look at there and this is a clear case where Jung was wrong. Yes.

I feel similarly about people making too much noise. For example, playing music on your phone speakers while on public transport is, as far as I’m concerned, literally a war crime.

Not all of my neuroses are public transport related. I’m also like this about neighbours. A previous neighbour would often deliberately blast loud music into the street out of their flat window, and the lack of subsequent arson charges is a credit to either my self-control or my alibi and I’ll never tell you which.

My neighbours are quite loud. Also the sound insulation in this building is garbage, because construction isn’t actually designed by people who give a shit about what their flats are like to live in. But definitely the neighbours are also much louder than they should be given that. Naturally, I resent this bitterly.

I can’t even jokingly pretend I don’t know where this one comes from. I’m a fairly quiet person, and some part of me really really doesn’t want to be. That part wants to scream, long and loudly.

“Why scream?”, you might reasonably ask. I don’t actually know. Anger and frustration are part of it, certainly. Not necessarily at anything in particular (or nothing in particular that I admit to myself), just a lot of that that’s built up and been imperfectly dealt with over the years, and the accumulated detritus needs a release.

I think that some of it is just that I want to be able to. Some sort of declaration that I’m here, and that I’m allowed to be here, and I’m allowed to take up the space I need.

Thing is, I can’t. As we’ve established, no sound insulation. My neighbours will definitely hear me screaming if I do, and no matter how much tolerance you have for your neighbours being inconsiderate with their noise usage, you hear a loud and extended scream you’re definitely going to freak out and probably going to call the police. Chances are nothing actually bad will happen to me, but boy would it be a lot of drama.

I’ve thought about going to a park in the middle of the night or something as a place to do this. Throw my head back and scream at the stars.

But sound carries pretty well at night, and if you hear someone screaming in the middle of the night in a park you’re definitely calling the police.

There are practical solutions to this problem and I’ve already thought of them. If I really wanted to scream, I could go hire a properly sound proofed music practice room somewhere. Maybe some day I’ll do that. But this isn’t really about solving the screaming problem.

Being loud is the easiest way to take up space. Loud people fill the room in a way that doesn’t leave space for others, and generally I hate them for it. If you want to be heard when there’s a loud person around, you have to be loud in turn, and now everyone’s life is worse.

But as a result, a desire to be loud is the easiest way to become aware of the walls of people surrounding your life, and how hemmed in you are by them on every side.

People try not to notice each other, but this only works as long as you don’t do something too strange. If you break the norms, they definitely notice. The best case is they judge you for it, the worst case is that there are actual consequences. People don’t like it when you break ranks, and the mob is not kind.

The truth is it’s not as dangerous as all that, and much of this can be solved by caring less, but caring less has never been my strength.

I like cities, I do. There’s a lot to recommend them. But the last few years feel like I’ve been getting all the downsides of living in London and none of the upsides. On top of that, it’s difficult to feel safe leaving on public transport, so there’s a deeply claustrophobic feeling of being trapped here.

I’ve been thinking of getting a car. I’d hoped I’d never need to own a car, but there’s a freedom to owning one that it’s very hard to replicate with anything else. I’d like to be able to just get in my car and escape London to somewhere that’s as close to remote as you get in England.

There’s nothing wrong with being inside walls, but sometimes you need to go outside.