Monday, 10 September 2012

Social Trends

One thing that interests me is when new social trends catch on. Now, I'm not talking about Facebook or designer fashion brands here. It's something far more down to earth than that, and it affects how we all behave around other people.

Die-hard environmental campaigners have, for a long time, pushed the message that we should think of the world we are creating for future generations. Subsequently, sales of organic baby food are higher than ever, and car manufacturers now sell family-sized cars with higher efficiency engines.

I think there is still a long way to go with openness and honesty when it comes to food labelling in general, and in making public transport more affordable. But the important thing is that changes are happening because people start to talk about these topics. The press releases and announcements have helped, but what really spurs things on is when influential people take action, and their friends realise it's a good idea and want to copy them. Or, as they used to say, "keeping up with the neighbours".

Trends can work in the other direction too, though. For example, there appear to be many more people who are sceptical about climate change today than there have been for many years. Unfortunately, some of them now disregard and ignore enivronmental issues - which is a shame, as they'd probably be the first to complain if pollution in their neighbourhood reached dangerous levels, or there was a shortage of fuel so they couldn't run their car. Or even, if litter was left on their doorstep.

As a rule, I don't leave litter behind. As well as the environmental issues, I consider it my social responsibility to clear up my own mess. I think most other people are the same, having had a good upbringing and being taught basic moral values.

As an example, a friend of mine was babysitting a friend's 7 year old son for the weekend. He normally lives in the country, miles from the nearest town, so the cinema was a new experience for him. He asked lots of questions, and my friend explained everything: from why the lights go out, to how popcorn is made. At the end of the film, they were both walking out when the boy stopped. "Why do people leave their popcorn and drinks behind at the end?".

My friend was stuck for an answer. She couldn't explain this - especially when the cinema foyer and car park were spotlessly clean.

I remember reading an article written by a cinema worker some time ago. He was equally baffled, especially because the major cinemas always provide a litter bin directly outside the auditorium. It may just be because everyone else is doing it, so it's assumed to be OK - even though the facts say otherwise.

Is littering inside the cinema a trend that has become socially acceptable?

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