Small signs you live in a complacent society

See original post and follow up discussion on /r/slatestarcodex here

As a Torontonian, when I visit East Asian cities metropolises, I envy the superiority of their metro systems, including:

  • More comprehensive subway lines
  • Trains with automated signalling that rarely break down/are late
  • Platform screen doors that make queuing easier
  • Signs by the screen doors that tell me when to expect the next train
  • Fares based on distance travelled
  • The ability to pay my fare on my phone (or by credit card)
  • Screens in the trains that tell me what side I will be exiting
  • Wifi and cell service available in the trains

Despite the envy, I can accept all of these deficiencies because on some level, they relate to infrastructure and building, something that my society has lost the ability to do effectively — while tragic, I have accepted.

What I find much more troubling are the things that don’t cost money and don’t require any infrastructure or building expertise.

A good example of this is numbering entrances/exits in subway stations. This makes navigating unfamiliar subway stations a much more pleasant experience. It costs essentially nothing to implement and is a clear win.

This isn’t some hidden secret; numbering entrances/exits is widely known to anyone who has travelled or has even the tiniest interest in metro systems.

It’s one thing when my society can’t build — this I can accept as it requires money, planning and expertise .

When my society cannot even implement widely known, cost-free low-hanging fruit improvements, it suggests a level of apathy and complacency that really bothers me. This reveals a failure in both the transit agencies for not implementing this and the general public for not being invested enough to raise their voice.

In a similar vein to the inability to label entrance/exits at subway stations, what are other small signs that you are living in a complacent apathetic society?