The Eerie Sound of Silent Sydney

August 12, 2008 at 2:03 am (Uncategorized)

Well, there was no fairytale finish for me on Sunday. The results are in today’s paper, and Rupert emailed me before to say I didn’t make it under 70 minutes. I had to file a couple of stories this morning, so I still haven’t left my desk to go and get the paper, so I still don’t know my exact time, but Rupert said we both missed out by a ‘couple of handfuls of seconds.’ I came in just ahead of Rupes, but Llew’s calculations were evidently off, as he was convinced I’d be IN by the same couple of handfuls of seconds. Oh well. What’s disappointing is that Llew was so sure he went and told everyone we know that I ran sub-70, so now I’m left to explain to everyone who’s congratulating me that no, no, no, I didn’t. What’s a shame is that it makes my time feel like a failure rather than the personal best it still is.

Oh well, there’s always next year!

Anyway, I was thinking about the quietness, and thinking about when and how it came to Ruben’s attention, and I think iPods have had a lot to do with changes to the race day atmosphere. Ruben was wearing one himself, and he was certainly not alone. An awful lot of people on Sunday wore earphones, effectively cutting themselves off from the rest of the field. You’re not as likely to shout out or clap or do anything else, are you, if you’re listening to a particular beat pumping through your headphones. You’re in your own little world, as determined by your specifically chosen race day soundtrack. Some people actually choose certain songs for certain portions of the route – something heavily inspirational to get you up Heartbreak Hill, for example, or a cranking finale to take you right to the end. I can see how effective it might be, but it seems to me it could be taking a toll on the community aspect of the race. iPods are for individuals, and the more people that wear them in things like the C2S, the less we’re all connecting with each other.

The more I think about it, the more I think iPods help explain why Sydney has become such a deadly silent city. It’s SO QUIET downtime. Abey, our Panamanian friend, said this to us during his last visit, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. He’s absolutely right. It’s like the most polite, passive, pod people place on earth. Next time you’re in the CBD, stop for a second, and think about it. Hear the silence. Compare it to the deafening roar of just about any other city in the world. People in Sydney are increasingly silent. Cars are mostly silent. Shit, even the buses are so silent that Llew was very nearly collected by one running a red light the other week. He didn’t hear it coming. Stand in Martin Place for a minute and listen to all that lunch hour silence. It is EERIE. Now Abey’s brought it to my attention, I can’t go anywhere without hearing the deafening permanent white noise of people on the street not speaking to each other. And what I’m interested to know now is how many of them are wearing iPods. It only occurred to me yesterday reading Ruben’s comment that perhaps there’s an actual technological explanation for our mute city. We’re enclosing ourselves in tiny little worlds of one. Is it just me who thinks that’s really sad? All these people, walking amongst each other but not even sharing the same sensory experience of the city. And for those of us who like our soundtrack rough and ready, as it comes from the world outside, all we’re left with is the awful, lonely sound of a city that never speaks.

POSTSCRIPT: Evo just emailed me my time: 70 minutes, 17 seconds. So close! Not under 70, but not too shabby at all.

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