What better way is there to inform a gathering of commuters that you are a first-class prick, the biggest prick on the bus, than by polluting the airwaves with the tinny sound of piss-weak popular music? We've all been there; I'm not pretending to have observed something, and I'm not attempting to put a funny spin on it. I'll leave that to the shit observational comedians like Michael McIntyre, or the excellent ones like Sean Lock. I've just been on buses a lot over the last twenty years and, before mobile phones came along and developed into mp3-infested boom-boxes, they used to be quiet somber areas where the public could gather in comfortable mass meditation. Sometimes there would be spontaneous poetry readings or, on a cold day, the sharing of a flask of hot coffee and a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits. How I long for a return to those halcyon days.
Then along came mobile technology, "cell phones", bringing with them a plummet in social responsibility. Suddenly there would be a clamour to break the meditative silence with the sibilant splash of 4/4 four-to-the-floor, unimaginative melody and unchallenging lyrics that mention love but appear emotionally void. One technology wielding scrote on every bus, tram, train and subway across the land now claims the right to subject the rest of us the their poor taste in music. They're never even that excited by the music; it's not as if they are passionate and enamoured by the delirium inducing magnificence gifted to them by Erato, Euterpe and Terpsichore. No, the music is a substitute for chewing, smoking, sniffing or picking scabs. It is a pointless little unsociable habit so far removed from any real love of great music. The people who love music have headphones.
Everyone hates this (they must, I can't fathom it any other way) yet most people carry upon their person a handy piece of technology which can easily be used to lodge a protest. I have heard tutting, and seen derisive glances directed at public-mp3ing, yet I have never seen anyone just get out their own phone and start playing, equally loudly, an entirely conflicting piece of music. How would the original mp3er react; would they get the fucking message? Or would they miss it entirely, lean over to the second mp3er and say "excuse me, you wouldn't mind turning that music off, would you? It's just I'm trying to listen to some music and, well, I was listening first."
I propose an experiment. Get a group of people, I think they are called 'friends', each possessing a phone loaded with a particularly antisocial, loud, or dramatic piece of music. Pile onto a bus and sit near the person playing the pop music. This would work especially well if you gave the impression that you were all separate individuals and not a conspiring group of friends. One of you starts playing some music; may I suggest Beethoven's 5th, or Pantera's The Great Southern Trendkill. Then when the person with the pop music starts getting uncomfortable and is visibly thinking "what's going on here?", then the next person can join in, then the next and the next, gradually building to a cacophonous chorus of mismatched dirge. Give it a go, and remember to film it and stick it on YouTube. Thanks.