On my way back home, highly caffeinated and in good spirits. Camera in my hand, settings fixed and here we go. No plan, no preparation, just walking, seeing, shooting and never standing still. Always in motion, in flow and letting the scenes and people just enter my mind. A hyperactive variant of the photo walk.
The mask. A sign of our times. A symbol of fear, protection, compliance and resistance. A virtue signal and a muzzle. We could have had it easier but not only had the mask to be mandated by government order, they also told us wearing one would protect others from us. What a poisonous combination. Self anointed deputies now feel empowered to enforce the rules. Hypochondriacs and neurotics began fearing naked faces. Others felt a growing resistance against mask mandates. Some made well argued cases against masks while others relapsed into a kind of childish defiance.
Maybe voluntary mask wearing would have been enough in most places. But maybe as a society we are more and more unable to tolerate voluntary decisions. The fact that someone decides differently does question our own choices after all. Cognitive dissonance is a bitch. But the freedom of those who think differently never had it easy in this country. I am curious how we will think about it in a few years. The mask (and now the vaccine) exemplifies the big rift in our society. The rift between those who mostly want to live their lives independently and those who want the government to look after them. Freedom is difficult and sometimes even painful. Lack of freedom is worse though. It is time to find a balance between those who need freedom and those who want to be looked after. And it is time to accept that there is no “big we” in society and that there never was.
Two different socioeconomic groups united while waiting for the green light. United while selectively respecting the rules. Does the traffic light really protect us? I always have to think about those dutch cities who think that everyone should have equal rank while using the streets. Consideration instead of traffic rules. Of course such a radical system almost forces a slow down in car traffic. Maybe the traffic light in Germany is supposed to allow swift car traffic. Germany is the largest car maker and maybe pedestrians are just something to be kept away from free flowing vehicles. Even speed limits on highways are still politically contentious. “Free roads for free citizens” like one big tabloid once wrote.
The 1990s have called. They need their phone booths back. A phone booth, what is that? They used to offer a way to have a private phone conversation protected from rain and wind. They even came with thick books listing all the phone numbers in a city. Astonishing when today we are trying to keep our phone numbers private out of fear of intruding ads, scams or stalkers. Today those booths are used for ads and as makeshift toilets. They are an anachronistic relic from a different time. A time when calls were billed in weird “units” that were cheaper in the evening and mobile phones were something for the rich and vain.
What does someone think when wearing such a sweater? I want love, I can give love, I am full of love? I have no taste? Maybe this simple statement is better than the unspeakable brand names like “est. 19xx original brand whatever”. Despite the kitsch maybe the slogan “love” can be something wonderful. Not only in private but also in public. Not everyone with a different opinion is evil, hostile, stupid or wrong. We should meet others with love. Maybe we learn something new and this would be a wonderful thing too.