Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You Have Been Carjacked!

Yes. Believe it or not we have ALL been carjacked. By ourselves. A great read on this can be found in the book:

As noted in the review: "The authors capture the fantasy and reality of our love of cars.They hold up a mirror to we, 'the people,' to let us look at our individual and collective glamour and bloat.  They ask, subtly and with a good amount of wit, if we know what we are doing to ourselves?"

This is a good question, and I really do not believe that as a culture we have yet realized what we are doing or already HAVE done to ourselves. I have written in previous posts about the feeling of being free when riding a bicycle - especially when you are riding far from your familiar surroundings. Being in a car is essentially the opposite feeling. It is a trap - the problem is that the automobile is largely looked upon as bringing great freedom to the driver. The iconic image of driving out on the open road is thrown in our collective faces dozens of times a day in the form of auto advertising. Reality though is never like it is in the ads, but that does not stop us from thinking it will suddenly magically become like them.

The car is touted as a symbol of freedom and empowerment, but indeed it can be so. But in its most basic form it is a yoke, a false security blanket, and often becomes a tool for people to feel empowered in bad ways. Nobody can argue the high cost of owning a car. Statistics everywhere constantly prove that driving is far more dangerous than just about any activity you can do, yet cars are often painted as safe havens from the hard world in advertising. And every cyclist has encountered a driver - who feels so empowered by his automobile - that the driver would go as far as to buzz the cyclist by mere inches when there is plenty of space to share the road. Any device that literally makes people feel "OK" about taking the chance at committing murder - by "almost" running over a fellow human being - is not good for the overall health of any society. To make matters worse, when a car driver does run over a fellow human being, they are often spared the brunt of the law, painted as the victim,  and the real vicvim (the cyclist for anyone not getting it) is viewed as the one "in the wrong." THAT is just wrong.

Everyone has seen the romantic commercials. They are much all the same: some dudes (who don't even look old enough to afford the vehicle they are driving) and their cadre of Ambercrombie & Fitch girlfriends barreling to the top of the mountain in their SUV in slow motion arriving just as the sun sets across the boundless horizon. Cut to them chilling with the cooler of brews roasting marshmallows all smiles. Pan slowly to their happy dogs frolicking in slow motion. Even after a bouncy drive to the top the vehicle is still clean like the showroom floor. Fail. 

This is not any sort of daily reality. Reality is being stuck in traffic with all the same folks - in your car that needs washing that you (and everyone else) spent too much on and are paying interest on for the next 3 - 5 years with only 1/4 tank of gas costing you an inevitable $50 to fill up for the next handful of days of driving not to mention insurance costs and the fact you have not changed the oil in 4,000 to many miles and some asshole gave the side a big ding with his door the last time you were at the superstore. 

That's a better reality of driving.

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