5/09/2006

Unsolicited Advice for All: Etiquette

Since nobody's asking questions I've taken it upon myself to impart wisdom upon the world. One of the things I've been thinking about a lot lately is rudeness. The world can be an extremely impolite place, even downright offensive.

The older generations wax nostalgic for the good old days when everyone had manners and being polite was the norm. Sure, it's easy to romanticize the past so I've always been suspicious of this long lost fantasy-America. However, the more I think about the modern lack of decorum, the more convinced I am that technology is at the root of the problem.

Now, I'm not some anti-tech freak typing my diatribes from a remote cabin in Montana (oh, I wish, I wish . . . ) I can unequivocally state that I will never live without a DVR, cell phone, computers or the internet.

But you have to admit that technology makes it very easy to isolate yourself from the world. We're all busy so why call people when you can email them? Why mail a resume on formal stock when you can fax? Why go outside & play ball when you can bully your classmates via IM? You get my drift.

Technology offers unprecedented opportunities to detach yourself & live in your own little bubble. Even the most social creatures welcome these shortcuts and fall into habit with them. Once a person becomes comfortable, it's easy to cut etiquette corners without even realizing it. We've all done it, every single one of you knows what I mean. If anyone isn't cringing at the thought of a past indiscretion while they're reading this, I'd really like to hear from you.

So it's no wonder that our social graces are continually diminishing, nor is it our imagination. As soon as you sign up for that limitless monthly plan, you're one bad day & a long line at the bank from discussing your husband's diverticulitis in front of a bunch of helpless strangers via cell phone. We can't help ourselves, or can we?

The conveniences afforded us are amazing. We're very lucky to have so many gadgets, timesavers & mobile devices at our fingertips. But with progess comes responsibility. We need to be conscious of how we are using technology & tailor our habits accordingly.

Don't email or IM anything that you wouldn't say to someone's face. Thank you notes, expressions of sympathy & breaking up via text message, email, etc. are totally unacceptable. Don't discuss anything personal in a public place on a cell phone. Ever. If you wouldn't have this conversation within earshot of your boss, don't subject the other customers at the bakery to the lurid details.

I need to know what you think. Give me your rants, suggestions & stories about rude behavior. Send me stories of people that annoy you & we can all make fun of them. If you have a guilty conscience, get it off of your chest anonymously. Just share your thoughts.

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