Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Our Endangered Values: My Spin

November 4, 2005

Am I the only one returning all my emails? Let me know. Sometimes it’s a simple, “Got it, or a “I’ll let you know,” maybe even a, “Thanks.” But the message is clear: I got your email and I care. With the inernet, PDA’s, and cell phones we now communicate more than ever. Or do we? It seems so one sided at times. I can’t stand when my emails go unreturned. And I’m sick of the excuses, “I didn’t have time.” But you had time to read them? So it appears we communicate more, but more selfishly.

We got the tools.

I communicate with people I would otherwise never: Like old college friends, people I meet briefly at a coffee shop, or people from the other side of the world that saw me in this or saw me in that. Email is great for that. And yet, our communication skills seem to be dwindling. Everyday, the news reports on the latest pandemic. This week it’s Bird Flu. Before that it was SARS. “The oil reserves will be completely depleted by 2020,” they scream. Haven’t we already proven we suck at predicting the future? I remember having an oil crises in the 70s when I was a kid. And whatever happened to the hovercraft? I care about the future, but I’m living in the now. Besides, I’m more of a social scientist.

Anyway, it’s always something. The sky is always falling. (And maybe with global warming this time it really is.) But I’ll tell you what’s the real epidemic- RUDENESS (Or pandemic if you want to sound grander.) People don’t return emails, doors that are graciously opened are left unthanked. In fact, “Thank yous” in general are down 42%. It’s not uncommon to counter tip an employee and they don’t even look up. The attitude appears to have evolved into, “You owe me.” I tend to thank people that should be thanking me. “Thank you,” I say to the waiter as I hand him my money. And I think, “Shouldn’t he be thanking me.” And he doesn’t. Is it uncool to have manners?

On the airport shuttle yesterday, an elderly couple boarded. And everybody watched them struggle getting their luggage on. I jumped up to help, and gave up my seat. People looked at me like I was a freak. “You wussy.” “Look at Mr. Polite.” It was a reflex. I mean,… that is still the right thing to do? Does the new generation know that you’re supposed to give up a seat to a pregnant woman? Thirty years ago it was to any woman. Not anymore. Now we treat woman like men on public transportation. We let them open their own doors… even on dates. We sneeze on them. I see people sneeze all the time and don’t cover their mouths. “Here, have some germs.” I would say, “Bless you,” to these people, but I need to wait for the germs to clear.

What do we value these days? Maybe if we were all just a little bit nicer and cordial… boy if that word doesn’t sound dated and obsolete. (Cordial: adj; warm and friendly.) Here is my definition: Cordial: Something you were while enjoying a root beer float.

“SCREW YOU ALL!” That’s the spirit! I don’t care about you. “You think you’re selfish. Watch me. I can outselfish you.”

We don’t communicate more, we communicate less (efficiently). And with that less, it seems more of it is negative. Think of the internet as a large reflection pool most people spit their venomous hate into. And it filled up quickly. But take a deep look at your reflection. Is it pretty? It’s really not harder to be nice. We have all the tools to communicate more, but we’ve lost our skills. With the invention and proliferation of cell phones and their unperfected technology we have dropped calls. And most of the time, when a call is dropped one party decides that is a good time to end the conversation anyway. I’m guilty of that. “I’ll just let it go to voicemail, I’m done talking to him anyway.” There are millions of unresolved calls out there.

So really, we communicate less. Which is fine with me. It may feel like more. We probably spend more time communicating, but the substance is less. At least less human. Let’s eradicate rudeness. Send that appeal to the WHO or CDC or FEMA. To each other. And if you disagree, send me an email and watch me not return it. Thank you.

© Copyright Orny Adams, Icrushed Productions 2006


Anonymous said...

Just to prove communication isn't dead, I liked that one, especially the fact that you looked up a word. That is also a dying art. I have a card on my desk that reads IF WE DON"T KNOW, WE LOOK IT UP. I love discovering new words for things. My new favorite is "specious". All the men I've dated have been extremely specious. I got that one from JD Salinger.
...look it up and send me an email.
: ) -k

julie said...

4 years later, none of this has changed and i couldn't agree more: i wrote a few pieces on manners for my column & my friend told me i should write a book of lawless etiquette haha. love that you are still a gentleman X juls
ps nice to see you still return your emails