loss of self-awareness and along with it, individual accountability. This can happen in a number of different scenarios and contexts, but anonymity (perceived or real) is always a key ingredient
I’m not exactly anonymous, helmetless and mad-looking on my defective trolley, but I do turn into a right un.
cars, it turns out, work pretty much the same way as an identity-masking hood. In his book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, journalist Tom Vanderbilt points out that while driving, people are surrounded by others (part of a group), and yet they’re also cut off (anonymous), enclosed in steel and glass shells.
In fact, when you look at Zimbardo’s description of conditions that contribute to a sense of deindividuation, it basically reads like a list of everyday road conditions. “Anonymity, diffused responsibility, group activity, altered temporal perspective, emotional arousal, and sensory overload are some of the input variables that can generate deindividuated reactions,” he says in the International Encyclopedia of Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychoanalysis, and Neurology.
To make matters worse, (as Vanderbilt points out), cars and modern freeways render drivers mute. That makes them mad. Behind the wheel, you’re stripped of the ability to communicate in all but the most primitive, non-nuanced ways (honking, hand gestures, and light flashing), while your identity gets reduced down to a brand of vehicle. (Seriously, is there anything worse than the driver of a late model BMW 3 Series?). When you combine all of these factors, you have a really potent recipe for rage and aggressive behavior.
Most of those are nos for me and most other arsehole cyclists flitting past. Any explanations that take account of both cyclists and car drivers? Do cyclists require a different explanation? Is my observation flawed?
- Spanish drivers and zebra crossings
Some comparative data.
- Bikes for free, if only…
Patricia is apparently setting off shortly to cycle from Irún in the north to Tarifa in the south. Um, it’s snowing all across the north at the moment.
I am …
- (Denver Post) Trevor is Dutch and has just returned to Barcelona from Holland when I spoke with him. He plays a didgeridoo, a long, hollowed-out eucalyptus tree branch. The Aborigines of Australia developed the musical instrument, which makes a beautiful, deep, throbbing sound. His first day back in mid-November has gone well, he says. The
- Referendums on independence are for pussies
Serious separatists will drive on the left, in Vic, starting Sunday.