Who You Lookin’ At?
I think I know what the next big Chinese export is going to be.
I read this article about a new shop in China where only women can go. On paying the equivalent of $8 NZ, they are admitted into a mock up of a house, complete with functioning appliances such as televisions and computers. They are given a baseball bat and a helmet and for one minute, are allowed to take out their frustrations by smashing things with ruthless abandon. The appliances actually work but are second hand.
The idea is that the woman can pretend that it’s her house and do what she wishes she really could at home. Right now the only rooms available to trash are a living room and bedroom, but they are planning to add a kitchen. In addition to appliances, you can throw plates, rip up paper and slash bean bags.
Business is booming, according to the article.
The reason I think that this idea is going to catch on in the West is because it looks like we are doing everything we can to engineer ‘reacting’ out of our society. I saw another article that talked about the city council of Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, planning to make it illegal to roll your eyes when someone says something stupid, or you object to what they are saying or doing.
Yes, you read that right.
The whole thing came about when a city councillor was ‘ejected’ from a meeting for “rolling her eyes” at something one of her colleagues said. Now, in order to preserve “decorum,” the city council is asking the city attorney to look at ways to make eye rolling illegal as a “disturbance and disorderly conduct violation.”
According to the article, under Illinois law, disorderly conduct means behaving “in an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another, or to provoke a breach of the peace.”
What they are saying is that showing disagreement by rolling your eyes is unreasonable behaviour that might alarm or disturb someone.
If this sort of thing catches on, I’m getting a “Smash-Things-With-a-Baseball-Bat-Shop” franchise. It will be a gold mine. Imagine spending a whole day having to suppress natural reactions to the stupidity, thoughtlessness and general annoyingness of the people around you. Wouldn’t it make you want to pick up a baseball bat and smash something?
I don’t know about you but I grew up in a world in which people were fairly quick to let you know where you stood. Teachers used red ink and corrected our work with gentle observations like “WRONG!!!” And we survived.
When I was an agent of global capitalism, I met my share of people who made eye rolling look like a loving caress. I once had a boss who was, to put it mildly, a maniac. One time we had to present a report to him. We worked diligently and polished the finished product. After the presentation, which he did sit through without interruption, he picked up the report, tore it up, threw it in the wastebasket and then expectorated into the waste basket to show his displeasure. Rich verbal feedback about our performance and quality as employees and human beings followed.
I wonder what the eyeball police would say about that.
In fact, the more I think about it, I’m a little worried about a post eyeball rolling world. For one thing, walking down the street would be like a scene from Children of the Corn or Village of the Damned. And that would be scary.
But it would also be confusing. Because people would walk around like zombies and not be able to intimidate each other by eye rolling, but presumably they would still be able to give each other the finger while driving. Or, given that this is Chicago, pull a gun on each other.
The law of unintended consequences might end up engineering emotional nuance out of human interaction.
Where in the past other people could give you clues that you are getting on their nerves, e.g., by rolling their eyes, now they would be legally required to go to more extreme forms of showing displeasure.
Theoretically, I supposed, if there were enough “Smash-Things-With-a-Baseball-Bat-Stores” it wouldn’t be so bad. But if people couldn’t go work out their frustrations on inanimate objects, they very well may start doing it on each other.
All because it would be illegal to show displeasure by eye rolling.