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« Who’s watching Sammy? | Main | My Cholesterol »

Each Generation has its Ruination 

I remember when I was a kid; Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll was going to be the ruin of us all. Looking at the state of the world today and the economy, maybe it was.

A female friend of my wife and I is a successful business woman; she recently introduced us to a teenage niece she had hired for the summer as a receptionist.

Later out of earshot of the young girl she said she was concerned for her niece as she was terribly shy and lacked social skills; this she felt would be a huge handicap when her education was finished and it was time for her to get out in the world and make a living.

She hoped by making her a receptionist the teen would be forced to interact with people. She added that her niece spent all day texting her friends; she had boasted to her aunt one evening that she had not spoken to anyone all day, but had communicated entirely by text and email.

In my view this is hardly something to boast about; it is extremely sad; it made me wonder how many other teens are there like this young lady. There is now a whole generation who have known nothing else but cell phones and the internet.

Another friend who was retiring as a University Professor was taken out to dinner by a group of his students; he said they were all texting each other across the table.

He said one would type something and across the table another would look down at his cell phone and smile, and type a reply that would get a brief verbal response or simply eye contact with a nod or a return smile.

Call me old fashioned (And you probably will.) but isn’t the whole purpose of a social gathering like a large group dinner one where everyone interacts with each other as a group? If someone has a joke or something interesting to say, then share it with everyone, not text it to one or two people, then giggle amongst yourselves.

I can see a real danger in this trend; people are social creatures we can’t live in isolation. These young people will have to form face to face relationships at some point in their lives; if nothing else in a job setting with their bosses and co-workers.

In a love relationship too; like all of life’s lessons we learn by failure. The only way to learn how to have a meaningful relationship is to get dumped many times until we figure out what we are doing wrong, and stop doing that.

“You have 5,000 friends on Facebook and you are bragging about it. Translation: You have no friends.”

Rudeness is rampant on the Internet; on Facebook and Internet Forums. I have often heard the quote that, “Rudeness is a weak person’s show of strength.” Rudeness is born out of anger and it is so easy to be rude under the cloak of anonymity that the Internet provides. 

Fear and Anger are two human emotions that I believe are closely linked. Fear triggers a base emotion that translates to a “Fight or Flight” mode. In order to fight, our anger level raises; but there is also an underlying fear that if we get angry with someone we will alienate them socially.

This is why we come across certain passive/aggressive personalities in our day to day lives. They are pissed at us, but at the same time afraid to piss us off. We are all aware of the fake smile and the “Wet Fish” handshake; or the “Compliment” that leaves us wondering if it was really a compliment or an insult.

People can express rudeness and anger on the Internet without fear of reprisal, but this is not a good thing.

Anger and rudeness leaves no one feeling good; neither the one being rude or the recipient. A person waking up to rude response to something they posted the night before, is just as likely to take that anger with them on the drive into work, and it will probably manifest itself as road rage.

By getting in the habit of always being rude on the Internet one can miss a lot of opportunities to learn something. Case in point; people often come to my blog as a result of a search for some knowledge. They read one post and disagree with what I say, and shoot off some rude comment.

They don’t take the time to read my profile and find out who I am, or read other posts. If the rudeness is really bad, I simply delete it, so it doesn’t harm me. However, they are the losers; they have missed an opportunity to learn something.

There are few rules on the Internet; it is up to each individual to decide what is right or wrong. A simple rule for anyone to follow is:

Don’t say anything online that you would not say to the person face to face.

Young people should listen to old farts like me ‘cos history repeats itself, and every time it does the price goes up.



Reader Comments (14)

While I certainly understand your point on socializing - and I don't disagree - I also am pretty sure that people said the same things about the telephone when it was invented. Heck, I have no doubts that the tribal elders lamented the development of writing as it drew people away from the verbal traditions.

As for the rudeness on the internet, well that's mostly due to the veil of anonymity that it provides. My solution - like yours it seems - is just to avoid such arguments.

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTodd S.

I think the behavior you describe is social. It's just different from what we're used to. Communicating via e-mail, text, tweet, whatever, has its advantages and disadvantages depending on context such that pinning down what is "better" is likely a losing game.

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeof Gee

When I was a university student in the early 90s, I had a professor who used to say things like, "When I was a kid we had sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Today, the sex will kill you, the drugs are illegal and the rock 'n roll's just not any fun without the other two."

To be serious for a moment, texting across the table, while gathered with others, is simply rude. I recently had to explain to my 8 year old daughter why it wasn't polite to whisper secrets in front of other people. I fail to see how these university students are behaving any better.

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott Loveless

I think it will all spiral down until we become like those mutants on Planet of the Apes, communicating via thought!

On second thought, that is even better than what we have today with kids staring into their palms!

We are all getting old, Dave!

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Katz

Interestingly enough, a couple of months ago, in a café downtown there were some teenagers sitting next to us, but they wouldn´t speak in the time (1,5h?) we were there. To my surprise, they would just spend the time messaging!!!

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterluis

Is it just me, or have common courtesy and basic rules of etiquette just been thrown out the window with this "always connected" generation. And if the answer is yes, then where the hell are the parents to teach them that there is a proper way to behave and socialize. I don't get it. (End rant early 40's Male)

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLance

I'm putting this on my new forum, its called Advocates for a Civil Cyberspace (http://civilcyberspace.freeforums.org). I'm targeting all demographics as contrary to what the last commenter says, online rudeness is just as prevalent with the over-40 group -- I was bullied off a forum by a sixtysomething guy, and had another bad experience with a guy in his 70s...I think the "older" generation is discovering this new anonimity thing and taking full advantage of doing things they could never get away with before. Very sad...

July 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Koro

Interesting post. As with most everything else, anything can be taken to an extreme - like texting or living your life via online.

If used within reason - like a tool and not a crutch - Facebook and other online means of communication is pretty damn incredible. I've reconnected and continue to communicate with a ton of folks via Facebook. Sure, there can be plenty of fluff involved, but overall - an amazing application/service.

I've even used to organize rides and other event as well. And no one texted during the actual event....

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan O

I have husband & wife friends who speak to each other on their respective Facebook walls. How sad is that?

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJW

"veil of anonymity" is a good phrase Dave. And, this being a biking related forum/blog, it made me think that it is this same veil of anonymity which is the force behind much of the rude behavior we see on the road. With the windows rolled up, and the stereo blasting, drivers feel cushioned from those with whom they are supposed to be sharing the road.

When I feel affronted, or offended, by the behavior of young people, I always try to remind myself that this has been going on at least since Socrates complained of the lack of sufficient piety in the younger generation. I try to remember that young people have much more energy to deal with chaos and that their reactions are so much faster. In short, that the world looks and feels different to them. It does not stop me from being deeply offended by someone sitting down to a dinner I have prepared, ostensibly to share a meal with me, and spending the majority of their time staring at their palm and smirking at some secret, shared joke or intimacy. It is a way of shutting out the person with whom they are actually in the presence of. A little bit as if one were to go out on a date and one's partner spent the evening praising a third party who was not present.

That is rude.

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

WWEPD? Perhaps a bowl or other receptacle placed near the front door for the sole purpose of divesting one's guests of their cellphones and PDAs is in order to re-establish a social environment where everyone is a participant. Call me old fashioned as well but a dinner table is no place for such a device. Just remember, what would Emily Post do?

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim

"society of the spectacle" by guy debord might be relevant to this topic.

July 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercept

Social awkwardness is hardly anything new, it's been around as long as there have been social circles. I had major social issues as a teen and it wasn't until I became a reporter and was forced to talk to people that it got easier.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Cardero

First time on your blog and I completely read this post. My complete respects to you and your work. But I've to apologize that I am going to have to post it on my Facebook page.

August 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterManjunath S

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