An Indictment of England, Take Two

I’ve noticed that the response to the government’s introduction of the various social distancing guidelines has been quite different in the Netherlands than it has been in England. The Dutch response has been lacklustre among a lot of the people that I know, with many people not taking it as seriously as I think they should. In contrast, the English response has been much more diligent. Now, I realise this is completely anecdotal and that it could very well be due to knowing different people in England than I do in the Netherlands. However, I think there is also something culturally different, where the English are also somewhat more obedient when it comes to these things. Culturally, the English are much more aware of decorum and have a stronger sense of politeness, and I think this fits neatly with what I have observed. As a result, I am completely mystified by the following:

Why is There Litter Everywhere?

I don’t know whether it’s a cultural different, a socio-economic difference, a waste-management difference, or some other societal element at work here, but it’s remarkable just how much litter there is on the streets and in the parks of Exeter. Most of the time it’s plastic soda bottles or crisp packages, leading me to think that it’s younger people who drop the garbage on the street.

I’ve never quite understood why people would litter. I’m always amazed when the lights in the cinema go on, and people shuffle to the exit, just the amount of garbage they leave behind. Often I mutter “people are animals” as I carry my empty bucket of popcorn with me to drop it in the bin, as I wade through and weave around everything that people leave behind. I’m not just virtue signalling here, I honestly don’t understand what motivates (or doesn’t motivate) people.

Once, I was walking down the street in Amsterdam and saw a girl rummage around in her pocket while walking with a friend, and then dropping the contents (some pieces of paper) on the ground. I stopped her to say that she had dropped something. She casually told me it was garbage, and I pointed out the garbage can that was perhaps fifteen steps away. She responded by saying that she pays taxes for people to clean it up. I was floored by that. By how rude, lazy, entitled and completely bent that way of thinking is.

And here, in England, where people tend to be quite obedient, I just don’t understand what moves people to chuck their garbage on the ground.

Joasia has suggested that due to the large number of seagulls that fly up the estuary, who pick the garbage from the bins and spread it around, there is a lot of litter on the streets. But that means that garbage is overflowing and requires more regular pick ups. It means tidiness isn’t valued very highly.

Rural areas don’t seem to have the same problem, from what I’ve noticed. Fewer people, sure. But I think there is also a better understanding and appreciation of the natural beauty of their surrounding. Garbage collects garbage, they say, and I think that if your surroundings are dreary you tend to care less for it.

Why are There So Many Cold Calling and Scammers?

I’ve had a mobile phone since 1995 and since then I have never once been cold called by someone wanting to offer me something, either products or assistance. For as long as I can remember the Netherlands has had the “Do Not Call Me” registry, which made it illegal for companies to call you if you were on that registry and wanted to be left alone.

Since moving to England, I’ve received text messages and robo-calls about twice a week. The messages tend to try to get me to visit a dodgy URL, while the robo-calls are always the same; a woman tells me that they’ve been told that I or one of my family members has been in a traffic accident that wasn’t my fault. When you say that this isn’t true, they say goodbye and hang up.

How is this legal? And how in all that is holy is this profitable!? How many people are foolish enough to fall for this? What does it say about a society where this persists?

When I spoke to Joasia about it she said that she has also had it since getting an English mobile number. When I mentioned it to my colleagues they said that it was normal. It’s not normal, it’s bizarre, and it betrays something is fundamentally wrong with this society.

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