To my lovely friends:
Just so you know – I am not depressed. Depression numbs everything. I am simply drained and emotional.
When you have been depressed and, frankly, emotionally numb for decades it is really hard to cope with anything else. Not that I remember but I imagine in some ways it is like being a newborn (or an LSD trip). Everything seems suddenly intense and noisy and colourful and beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. I don’t have the tools to deal with the mood extremes yet, and this week has seen a few.
I am being idiotic in considering withdrawing from a community of friends that I so enjoy being a part of and which forms the greatest support network I could wish for.
So, to cut a long story short. I carry on. I want you folks in my life and I am going to stay positive. Negativity is not going to win.
I might not be composed enough yet to write much that is new. But it did occur to me that I could bring forward part 3 of the bus papers. Though no buses were involved this time as I thought I’d better avoid risking being banned from them…
The ‘bus’ papers – part 3
Social exclusion and invisibility. Observations.
D. Sleep, Lancaster.
We present experimental data which demonstrate that a lack of readily apparent physical existence is not generally understood by the population as a whole, and that invisible individuals are likely to suffer from prejudice. Furthermore their personal freedom is unjustly restricted by modern anti-fraud and anti-terrorism policy. Friends and relatives of invisible individuals may also suffer by association.
Materials & Methods
Experiments were carried during the autumn of 2006 and summer of 2008 by telephone and in person.
Experiment 1: Booking a holiday flight for the author’s friend Winifred.
Calls were placed to a selection of airline offices in the UK and Ireland using the following script:
Caller: Hi, I was wondering about your policy on photo-ID at check-in and boarding.
(listen to policy)
Caller: that all sounds very thorough. I do have one question though. I want to book a flight for a friend but she has no photo ID.
(listen to repeat of policy and usual question ‘can she get some photo ID?’)
Caller: Actually it’s very difficult for her to get photo ID, she doesn’t photograph very well.
(Listen to whatever reassurances are forthcoming)
Caller: Well, of course she isn’t ugly, it’s just that she is invisible.
See Table 1.
|Response||Number of calls|
|Hanging up without responding||8|
|Polite advice regarding ‘time-wasting’||2|
|Less polite advice regarding ‘time-wasting’||2|
* Ryanair. Lovely lady suggested the author visit their call centre so she could thrash him. Author politely declined on the grounds of BDSM not being his kind of kink, but thanks anyway.
Taking Winifred out for a drink to commiserate with her on her dashed holiday plans:
The author, with Winifred, visited several public houses in Lancaster and ordered one pint of ale for himself and a G&T for Winifred at each round.
The experiment did not include a control such as visiting the pubs alone, as the author already has plenty of prior experience of this.
The upside :
- Invisible people do not get asked for proof of age when accompanied by old blokes.
- Invisible women do not get approached by strange men when already with a strange man.
- Invisible ladies can jump the queue for the toilets without comment.
- Invisible people seem to have a low metabolic rate and do not steal your salted peanuts.
- Invisible people do get their chairs or stools pulled out from under them when the pub gets busy. Telling the person responsible that the seat is currently occupied just prompts what can only be described as ‘a look’.
- Getting noticed at the bar is difficult, necessitating asking someone visible to get the drinks in. This could also count as an upside of course. The author can attest that getting noticed by the bar staff is equally hard for many visible persons also and has spent many a dry evening in the Sun Hotel (Lancaster UK ) due to not looking cool enough to be served.
- Talking to an invisible person causes comment and unease amongst the bar staff and other customers. This is really surprising given the cosmopolitan nature of a university town in the 21st century. Disappointingly it appears that bigotry is alive and well.
- Some individuals are especially impatient. They are readily identified by their habitat (doorways of licensed premises) and smart black clothing. Physical identifiers also include lack of hair and lack of neck but abundance of shoulder. They often wear hands-free communication devices.
- Drinking in company really does get you more drunk. Though it has been suggested by some that the author was drinking both drinks. The author regards this as a cynical suggestion not based upon eyewitness testimony, i.e. not one of the witnesses could swear they saw an invisible woman not drinking.
In the author’s earlier works (Sleep, 2006 (1 & 2)) , evidence was presented that suggested the general population is uncomfortable when confronted with individuals not conforming to their ideas of ‘normality’. The observations presented above reinforce that evidence.
It is relatively easy to interpret this behaviour in a biological and evolutionary context. Populations of other herd animals have a similar response to individuals whose behaviour is perceived as likely to cause disharmony, or be a burden on the population or even attract the attention of predators. Exclusion of these individuals reduces the immediate risks and also the likelihood that such behavioural traits will be passed down to the next generation. Assertions that Homo sapiens is somehow above such programmed behaviour carry no weight with the author.
In summary it would be easy to compare people to sheep, except that sheep are generally rather nicer & don’t scare the author as much.
I would once again like to thank Stagecoach buses for providing transport. Winifred for support and friendship. Mrs Susan Sleep for having a high eccentricity tolerance threshold. I also wish to apologise for the extended gestation time for this paper. This was due to an uncharacteristic period of contentment and peace of mind. Thankfully my grip on your reality is once again slipping.
Sleep, 2006. “USE OF DOMESTIC FOODSTUFFS ENHANCES PROBABILITY OF DOUBLE_SEAT RETENTION ON PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLES”, submitted.
Sleep, 2006. “FURTHER EXPERIMENTS IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT/ PERSONAL SPACE ISSUES. “ submitted.