Ever since Thatcher denied it’s existence society has been in decline, like a Discworld god that no longer has a following.
I found this great quote in the Private Eye this morning…
“The government was concerned about ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOR and in 2004 passed a law about it. This law allows Police to break up and move on groups of young people who are gathered together in a public place.”
Herein lies a key element of our problem, social behavior is against the law. For all of the talk of community empowerment and how we can rebuild community somehow we’ve forgotten that a community is a group of people interacting. The law is currently designed to stop such events happening.
This perception of Anti Social behavior has come to be pegged automatically to groups independent of their behavior, it presupposes intent to be disruptive by virtue of wanting to hang out with friends in a public space.
The question that we should be asking with respect to groups of people hanging out on the streets, is why is it just the “youths” that are doing it? We should all be doing it. We have to encourage the public into “public spaces”, we all need to be hanging out and being social outside of Pub and Café environments, and talking to people in the streets.
Streets are perceived as dangerous more often when they are empty, not when they are full. We need to fill them with people not police.
As an aside (no doubt to be blogged further in the future), we also need to address some of the reactionary policies and media campaigns that over the years have further eroded society by placing divides between generations. The very way that we attach behaviors to and define “generations” automatically creates an artificial friction, a perceived lack of commonality and understanding. This coupled with media generated paranoia – all gangs of youths are dangerous mugging hoodies, and adults talking to “youths” are most likely pedophiles, drives a wedge between potential intergenerational communication from both sides as perception works both ways (ie. people sensitive of how they may be perceived by others, this perception of self is also shaped by media fed convention).
So if you want to encourage community, encourage social behavior (don’t outlaw it), bring back the street party.