My top five 21st century gripes

It can't be just me who finds these aspects of contemporary life totally infuriating


Oh, what joy it is to be alive in 2013! Really? While we live an age of possibilities and convenience, of infinite choice, and when technology makes the complex look simple and the impossible suddenly becomes attainable, the modern world can also infuriate and frustrate to such an extent that even the most cheerful, optimistic, positive person (me, for instance) can turn into a grumpy old man. I'm not, I hasten to add, taking the wide, macro view here. I'm not talking about the big global issues, but rather those small, everyday aspects of life that set our teeth on edge or make us rage against the machine. In other words, the things which force us to feel our age. Is it just me? Surely not. In fact, I cannot believe that many of you don't share some of these 21st Century irritations.

     1. Coming next week. You have just finished watching a favourite TV series and you are digesting the consequences and significance of what's just happened. But you're not allowed to spend a nano-second of reflection before you get a preview of the next episode. No need to spend time wondering what might happen next: here's how the plot unfolds. I fail to see the point. It doesn't make it any more likely that I'll be allured into watching the next instalment - if anything, it makes it less likely.

     2. Inappropriate exhortation. Almost every time I leave a restaurant after dinner these days, I am implored to “have a nice evening”. Hold on a minute, I want to say. Haven't I just had my evening? Am I expected to go on enjoying myself? Wasn't the sensory delight I have just experienced enough? I expect, like other exchanges in the service sector, that this has been imported from America, but I can't understand why there was ever a need to embellish the traditional “Good night”.

     3. Wheels of ire. Do you remember when people used to carry their bags? Those days when carry-on luggage meant just that? Now, even the smallest suitcase comes with wheels attached. This may be considered progress, but I yearn for the time when you could walk along a pavement in central London without having to dodge a mobile suitcase in the hands of a careless, thoughtless owner.

      4. It's the invitation, stupid. There are many linguistic solecisms about which we pedants could get aeriated, but the one which really gets my dander up is the modern vernacular that insists an “invitation ” is an “invite”. Does it make me sound pompous when I explain that one is a noun and the other a verb? Yes? Well, it's not going to stop me...

      5. Public oversharing. I'm all in favour of passengers on trains and buses being kept in the picture about delays and such like, but we don't have to know every kink in the system, and the reason behind each little problem. Some of us like to be in our private world without interruption from a clown on the Tannoy who thinks he's on a live radio show.

Oh no. I've just realised that I sound l like the grumpiest, oldest man you could ever have the misfortune to meet. Have a nice day!

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