Overheard on Luas

19:10 Mon 28 Aug 2006

Travelling from the Connolly stop to the Museum stop, I overheard teenagers in conversation that seemed interesting, partly because they were from a demographic that I would have tried hard to avoid when I was a teenager.

There were four or five of them, two boys and two or three girls. The boys had evidently just been in some kind of fight on the street with people they knew, with one of them getting punched for something unspecified. So they were talking about this, and then the one who had been punched is given the phone of one of the girls, and one of his attackers was on the phone… apparently taunting him, because I heard him say things like “well, there were four of youse”.

And that was pretty interesting, that in fifteen or so years the culture has altered to the point that taunting after a confrontation would take place via mobile phone, and that this was entirely unremarkable to all the parties involved. Later he received another call on his own phone, this time from one of the attackers who was apparently trying to broker an agreement by which they would all let the matter drop… this agreement was rejected, with an insistence on meeting at some location to continue hostilities. This counteroffer was greeted without enthusiasm by whichever of the original antagonistic group of four was on the phone.

I guess it’s not that different from the old days, when they would have been engaged in shouts back and forth while in retreat—well, maybe it is, because at that point physical proximity would still have been an issue, whereas the phones grant the ability to talk without the option of immediate violence. The other old-school communication medium, gossip (which also didn’t have the option of immediate violence), was clearly still around, but was less critical since direct communication was possible, and engaged in.

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3 Responses to “Overheard on Luas”

  1. G- sizzle Says:

    Same old bullshit, different technology. Now various older brothers are just a phone call away.

    Watching the lord of the rings film, the bit where Frodo and Sam go to Mordor kind of reminded me of growing up in Dublin. A lot of running, hiding and taking the longway round in order to avoid random maruading hordes who always outnumbered you and never fought fair.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    Abolutely… I did an awful lot of that in Dublin too. And yes, they were calling older brothers and cousins on the phone.

    What was different, though, and which I didn’t ever see when I was growing up in Dublin, was this remote taunting/negotiation. Because at the time, you couldn’t do that without the physical threat being present. Now things have changed to the point that it’s normal (apparently) to communicate when the threat of violence is not immediately present.

    Something else interesting, which I didn’t delve into, is the fact the girls present facilitated this communication, providing a phone at one point, and numbers, and in one case even a real name for one of the nicknamed antagonists. It also sounded like they were providing a kind of social backdrop to the whole thing… but that could be me over-theorizing.

  3. kevintel Says:

    I’ve seen it too; in fact, a couple of weeks ago while getting the Nightlink home I had to sit through something like this; a very, very drunken guy (who, I gathered, had been given a pasting by someone he knew, probably asking for it too) was explaining to his somewhat drunken but very reasonable friend how his (possibly, though unlikely after that night) girlfriend was a bitch (he then rang her a few times, clearly coming off the worse in his rants; I understood that she was still out with her mates and wondering where he was, and if he wasn’t arsed to tell her he’d gone home then he could fuck off.) and then how he was going beat five shades out of his nemesis the next day, preferably by going to his house early on Sunday morning and ambushing him. He then went on to explain how he was going to do this in graphic detail, over and over again (it apparently was going to involve a lot of slow-motion punching, which probably explained how he got a hiding the first time.). And again. His mate was trying to be reasonable but getting pretty tired of hearing about it, and was also trying in various ways to explain that the next time his friend was likely to get an even sounder beating, so why not let it go and forget about it, because he was looking pretty stupid as things stood. “‘m fuggin’ tellin’ ye, oi’ll be round der demorra mornin’, an’ he won’ be expecdin’ me, oi’ll hid ‘im loik da’ an’ loik da’, an den’ he’ll go loik da’ an’ oi’ll hid ‘im loik da’…”

    The mobile phone was the center of it all, because it’s how everyone was connected to each other; I think, as Tadhg says, it diffused the situation somewhat because people could get their point across without having to meet and then start beating each other in the street. Text messages, phonecalls, the exchange of information, establishing how they know each other, I think it makes it less necessary for some people to meet and beat. And I agree about the role of the women in these situations. They’re the negotiators and the holders of the information. They used to transfer the messages in person, but now this is done through their phones.

    Mind you, I was ready to beat him with my own phone, if I had to sit through another tem minutes of it. Fuck me, that got old quickly.

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