By now, I’m sure you’ve seen this video released by the Transport Department promoting courtesy on public transit featuring legendary Hong Kong actress Deanie Ip.
It depicts irritating behaviors commonly seen on public transport: people paying more attention to smartphones than their surroundings (and missing their stop, or not using earphones while watching videos); taking up seats when there are people who need them, or yelling at bus drivers for things that aren’t their fault.
It’s a great video because these depictions are so painfully accurate — but I wonder how much impact it will actually have other than bring us a few laughs, thanks to Ip’s punchy delivery. Obnoxious behaviors are so common now around town that I think Hongkongers are increasingly becoming numb to them.
How many people will really start treating other people in public spaces with respect after watching this? Are we really going to start giving way to elderly people, stop putting our feet up on bus seats, and not act like the poles on trains and buses are exclusively for our use?
These are basic etiquette on mass transit and in public spaces, but you’d be surprised by how ungracious Hongkongers act these days — and worse still, how numb we’ve collectively become towards this type of conduct.
During rush hour on the MTR, I witnessed a harassed staffer explaining to people that a wheelchair user had been waiting to get into a carriage for some time — five trains had already gone by, but there was no way they could get on.
My mom has used a cane to walk for the last three years and I can count on one hand how many people have offered her a seat on any public transport.
Whenever bad stuff goes down in public, people whip out their smartphones to film instead of trying to help someone in harm’s way. I understand that not everyone is able to physically break up brawls on the MTR (and potentially put themselves in danger), but do we really have to stand on the sidelines and watch it unfold like it’s a soap opera?
We are all guilty of this. I, too, have recorded strangers engaged in verbal arguments in public. I also, however, resent the fact that people are increasingly becoming colder towards one another in society. If we can’t all be nicer to people, can we at least just not be douchebags? That’s all I’m asking.
All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
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