September 21, 2007

It has abruptly come to my attention that we are in a state of disprepair when it comes to social graces. From sales associates, to e-mail, to meetings, to dates, to invitations, and even to the humble phone call, we have lost our way.
Seduced by the promise of technology we have utterly confused the tool with the relationship. Witness the texting of nonsense on small phones during movies, a groups of students "meet" with their laptops, the ubiquitous white chain of the iPod, the person who calls a meeting with you and then proceeds to stare at their lap the whole time, slave to their Blackberry. People are spending inordinate amounts of time (and money) in picking and personalizing their devices and the least amount of time in composing their thoughts to actually broadcast.
We have failed to maintain the essentials of good manners in our postmodern social interactions. How many couples in restaurants have you seen, ostensibly on a date, who have one (if not both) seated parties talking on the phone? How many of your clients or colleagues confuse e-mail with IM, outrageously expecting you to answer the former within minutes of their receipt? Have many people leave phone messages without any helpful information, or answer with only "Hello" or "Yeah?".
So while the accompanying image harkens back to a rather excessive focus on etiquette, it would serve us well to remember the principles behind such antiquated rules: respect, decency, courtsey, and kindness. To my mind these are worth preserving. Otherwise, why leave the house?

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