Bad manners and uncivil behavior going viral

[Reprise of a BoomerCafé story originally published in June 2013]

Have you noticed what BoomerCafé’s ranter-in-residence Carrier Slocomb has noticed? It’s about manners. Bad manners. They’re going viral.

Bad manners go viral …

I hesitate to even complain about this because, to be honest, I’d be a hypocrite if I claimed I am always prompt and civil myself. Still, I think something should be said, even if I am a poor choice for spokesperson.

Carrier Slocomb

Carrier Slocomb

What’s my rant? That double standard we all seem to embrace when it comes to our devices!

I know every generation mourns this, so I’m not claiming we boomers own this position, but is it me or have common courtesy and basic manners gone to the pigs in our lifetime? I’m talking about current email, voice, and texting etiquette.
Pardon my html, but bad manners have really gone viral!

If I didn’t know better, I’d say we still live in the old phone-on-the-wall era, but we don’t. Phones exist in pockets, purses, or hanging off ears. We never miss a call — we’re just being selective. Define bad manners with, “I sent you a text hours ago; you didn’t get it?” Or, “My email went through, but she hasn’t replied in three days?”

How can you ignore, “Heading to ER now?

How can anyone ignore these texts or voices, but we do. Why?

Sorry, but we used that lame excuse last time.

Look around. Smell the air. Listen to the breezes. Manners and common courtesy can’t compete in a world humming with 24/7 electronic efficiency. Maybe that’s why our disorganized traits, careless ways, and jealousies become more emphasized with every jump in technology. Consider this headline: “Efficient systems expose emotional humans.”

So what are we left with? What should we attach our names to? Especially those of us who send and receive ten texts in two minutes, or instantaneously complete business transactions, correct difficult applications, and say “I love you” on our devices all the while totally ignoring human life around us? The sad reality is, nothing can make us be nice, efficient or loving when we don’t want to be, so we put off sending a reply.

It's worldwide. Here are businessmen in Rome.

It’s worldwide. Here are businessmen in Rome.

It’s strange to think this, but here’s a hint about where bad manners may have led us. We call for an auto insurance quote, and no matter our dissed mood, the company rep is perky and helpful. It’s 3 AM, and we’ve got an online order complaint. Our sour approach notwithstanding, this new rep is attentive, efficient, and reliable. Isn’t it clear? Devoid elsewhere, prompt and courteous manners now rule most 24/7 online businesses.

Once free for the taking, we now pay distant strangers to treat us courteously. We pay them not to ignore us, to spare us any lame excuses. As you can guess, there’s an indirect pricetag attached, in the form of a short questionnaire concluding every transaction.

Ask yourself this: “Isn’t this service rating system actually incentivized courtesy, like we’ve stooped so low we’re buying good manners from some company rep?” Yes? Oh well, who says you can’t buy your friends?! Helluva system, what?

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  1. Thanks for the post Carrier. You have certainly raised an issue that is becoming more common place, and annoying, no matter where you go or what you are doing these days!. Emails, Cell phones, texts, alerts, it comes at you non stop. It’s like someone tapping you on the shoulder to get your attention and you want to say, hey do you mind, can’t you see I am talking with someone. But No, they can’t see, and I submit that if they could, it would not deter many either. Common courtesy seems to have fallen by the way side. It is just so time-consuming, and we just can’t seem to find that time anymore. We need to.

    1. Eric: your aim is accurate and biting. Unending interruptions can trash common courtesy and those of us who feel it most are those of us who remember a civility that hasn’t existed in many years. Now, while I myself like and use the latest technology, I don’t always appreciate the way technology is used around me either. And yet I’m no saint. Thanks for your thoughts and your reply.

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