Possibly the most insightful bumper sticker slogan I've ever seen.

One of the most dangerous activities in which people face each other is also one of the most alienated, in the sociological sense. When we drive our cars, we rarely see one another's bodies and faces. We rarely if ever see one another's expressions, or hear one another's voices. In short, we rarely perceive our fellow drivers in human form. We see wheeled mechanical insects with glowing eyes -- or we see those insects' swarm manifestation, traffic.

If our ability to interact socially with one another is contingent upon our recognition of one another as people, then perhaps the driving experience is alienating and dehumanizing in a quite literal sense. The human brain may understand that these lurching, flashing arthropods contain human life, but does the "monkey brain" get it?

Traffic is people. We may repeat that fact to our hearts' content, meditating upon the humanity of the tailgater, the cell-head, or the six wild kids in the soccer mom's minivan. But at a deeper level, I wonder if we can really convince ourselves: when we are frustrated or angry with the experience of driving, we don't yell about drivers, but about traffic -- about the swarm.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.