Friday, October 16, 2009

One git doesn't mark the collapse of civilisation

An extraordinary story has passed through the Twitterverse (London section) this morning. It concerns a London Underground member of staff who has been caught on a passenger's video camera behaving appallingly to a member of the public. Jonathan Macdonald has posted a sober account of this incident on his blog together with video. That seems reasonable and responsible behaviour to me and will no doubt result in some kind of disciplinary hearing.

What disturbs me is the tenor of the comments beneath his post. If you set up any kind of digital pillory nowadays, the people who are first on the scene seem to have difficulty identifying where a genuine grievance finishes and non-specific rage about the world begins. Too many people seem to treat this incident as an excuse to vent on everything from pony tails to political correctness, from Boris Johnson to fare rises, from the economic climate to London Transport training budgets, rather than accepting it for what it is, an isolated example of very bad behaviour. I've been travelling on the tubes for 40 years. Most of the tube employees I deal with are polite and helpful, albeit sometimes lacking in polish.

Sometimes a git is just a git and not a symptom of anything.


  1. I was worried too that some poor behaviour that needed dealing with via proper management channels would end up in a random sacking. I have suspicion that many of the commentors and retweets haven't even watched the video let alone read the blog. I would say that the orginal blogger could have sent the incident to TFL so it could it be address internally first and then perhaps in public if no action was taken.

  2. The standard of You Tube commenting is a frightening cess pit of ignorance which is more indicative of the collapse of civilisation.

    I used to find the Private Eye feature "News from the Message Boards" hilarious until I discovered they were virtually just copying the stuff out.

  3. Anonymous6:58 pm

    I can foresee Bob Crow defending him already.


  4. Good post. Quite an amazing video.

    I think the tendency you highlight is part of the 'narratives of decline' that David Aaronovitch and others have written perceptively about. This has been magnified by the 'web 2.0' functionality of user-generated content, of which my comment is, er, an example...

  5. It's the stress of modern living is it not? Nobody feels like they're getting any respect.

  6. Anonymous2:34 pm

    According to the BBC news site Ian Morbin, the TfL worker involved in this incident, has now resigned for personal reasons.

    David, Liverpool