Cars and Posthumanism: Chapter 37

Anyone who’s walked in downtown Seattle, or in pretty much any big city for that matter, has likely experienced the scene above: a driver comes up to a light as it’s changing to red and stops halfway across the crosswalk, and then proceeds to sit there sheepishly as pedestrians are forced to walk around the car. What is wrong with these people? Have they never been told that all cars come with reverse? The thing is, these same people would never behave that way if they weren’t safely concealed inside a steel and glass box. Machines dehumanize.

Imagine the scene reversed: a pedestrian starts out across the street but the “don’t walk” sign comes on, and so he stops and stands there in the middle of the lane and forces the oncoming cars to drive around him, inciting the predictable blitzkrieg of horns and expletives.

So why don’t pedestrians react the same way when cars rudely block their path? Perhaps it’s partly because they have nowhere to hide, and partly because they’re not as stressed out as the average driver. But the root cause is that in car culture, even people who don’t drive cars have an inclination to robotically bow down to King Car. There’s this little voice in all of us that says, “oh, it’s OK, that car is more important than me.”