On Technology and Common Manners

Robot ScrabbleI am having beers with a friend; it’s been a while since we have met and we are having a one-on-one drink to catch up. A few minutes ago, in a somewhat abrupt manner, she opened her IPad and began doing something. This something did not end quickly, and since then I have done the ‘I’ll check my messages’ move, the ‘Oh, I forgot to jot down that appointment’ glance into my date book and now I’m just staring at the table waiting for her to finish so we can get back to our conversation.

Finally, I ask what she is doing. She answers, “Just taking my turn on Scrabble.” She isn’t sitting on a tram or in a large group of people. Why would you make a present friend secondary to an online Scrabble game?

I look around the restaurant to see a number of bored faces staring into plates while their clueless friends are chatting on the phone or scrolling through messages. Or maybe it’s something really important like Facebook, Twitter or Scrabble.

But on the bright side, my friend hit Quidditch on a double word score, so it was all worth it.

Every day, one thing becomes painfully obvious: I am in a post-bachelor grumpy curmudgeon program. I am a good candidate too. I score highly in not understanding today’s music; My research paper “Young People and Clothing: How to Keep a Straight Face While Looking This Ridiculous” is being very well received in academic circles. And I am working on my curmudgeon phrases, such as “In my day,” and “When I was a kid.”

At graduation, I get a porch swing, a neck chain for my glasses and a box of adult diapers.

Still, my major area of study in this curmudgeon program is how people use technology to disregard common politeness and manners. My thesis will focus on the sad fact that this problem is not limited to young people; it is pandemic.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. Technology is why I get lost 70% less these days, or why I am not eight minutes late and six minutes early for a tram. Technology is why I have a secret pretend relationship with Donna, the webcam wench…I’ve said too much. And if technology has taught me anything, it’s that with 1.21 gigawatts and a flux capacitor I will soon have the flying skateboard of my dreams.

It’s not technology, it’s people. We’re losing simple common manners.

As a teacher, I have bitched in a variety of ways about the students’ constant use of technology in the classroom. I have too many stories to tell: students checking Facebook during an exam or students showing other students videos during class. One student asked me a grammar question and in the middle of working with her through it she started typing on her phone. I asked her what she was doing and she replied casually, “Just sending an email.”

“Are you telling your friend about your exciting new grammar knowledge?” I asked her and nodded as the sarcasm was lost on her. But seriously, why does the person on the other side of the email take precedence over me? A person present, trying to help her. In a classroom.

We know it doesn’t stop there. How many times have you seen a person at a shop treat the shop assistant secondary to the person they’re chatting with on the phone? Hell, the shop assistant at my local store takes his customers as he stares at what is obviously ‘Vietnam’s Funniest Home Videos.’ On a side note, Vietnam needs a bowling alley.

We all do impolite things. And I am not suggesting that the older generations, or me, for that matter, are any better or more polite than anyone else. But for the love of Doc Emmett Brown, why are we disregarding any sense of common manners?

People of the world, put down your phones and IPads! It’s not too late. There are people in front of you, look at them, talk to them. Do it, before you forget how to communicate one on one.

If you need conversation topics, you can start with how young people dress or prunes: highway to regularity or ugly raisin?

What’s your biggest tech pet peeve?  

  1. #1 by Lee on January 28, 2013 - 11:09 am

    My biggest peeve:
    When I am out with someone and they keep trying to grab my attention while I am trying to play an extremely strategic scrabble turn.

    How rude!

  2. #2 by Damien Galeone on January 28, 2013 - 3:19 pm

    Thee Foul Fiend!

  3. #3 by Amanda on January 29, 2013 - 2:49 am

    I strongly dislike being stuck on an elevator with someone on a phone call. That bothers me to no end. People should wait until they are off the damn elevator to carry a phone conversation. It is a business meeting? Oh, ok, then kindly step off the elevator & take the discussion elsewhere..

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