Thursday, October 2, 2014

The sad decline of cheerful whistling

If we were to graph the amount of whistling going on in society, we would see a long precipitous decline. It's dying out like rhinos.

It used to be that loads of people walked around whilst cheerfully whistling away. Their heads weren't clogged up with thousands of different thoughts; just a single little tune. It was brilliant. No one could ever be rushed, stressed or unhappy while they were whistling. 

Whistlers could carry their tunes around anywhere. They didn't need a phone, ear plugs and a charged battery to keep it all pumping out. They didn't need to download anything or sign up for some streaming service and have their musical tastes monitored by a distant corporation which would later pester them with targeted advertising.

Often the whistlers didn't whistle a set tune at all. They were constantly composing, making up their fabulous little ditties on the fly. Whistlers were like human birds - somehow lighter and freer than all those serious non-whistlers.

But the whistler is a dying breed. I can't envision many kids becoming whistlers. Few have the long walk home anymore which encourages the habit. Instead most are scooped up in to an SUV with the radio playing. The posh ones stare at the little TV built in to the headrest. 

Even if kids are forced to sit at the bus stop, not many will whistle away the wait. Most will feel an addictive impulse to pull out a phone and be entertained by a glittering world of games and social media. Time which was once free will be spent carefully managing an online identity. After all, who knows what could happen between the school bell and the arrival of the 288?

Perhaps we should put our faith in hipsters to encourage a whistling revival. A group which loves Ned Kelly beards, fixed wheel bicycles and typewriters should surely embrace this now antiquated activity.

Whistling seems far superior to all these established hipster drawcards, which each suffer some fairly serious drawbacks. Typewriters quickly expose poor typing and spelling. Fixies are pretty much useless the moment you encounter a significant hill. Ned Kelly beards can have the same effect as spraying a full can of lady repellent.    

But even if hipsters do embrace whistling, the habit may not be as permanent as their sleeve tattoos. After all, we live in an age of frenetic multi-tasking, with little space for extravagances. Ever harder we work to pay the bills and project the right image, hoping one day we might scrape together enough cash to afford the deposit on a slightly crap semi under the flight path.

Sadly no one in Sydney has time to breathe, let alone whistle. 

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