Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Uncivil Communication

The telephone. That wonderful invention of Alexander Graham Bell which revolutionized mass communication has, in the twenty-first century, become emblematic of our ever-increasing loss of civility.

To wit: (1) "Call Waiting" One is engaged in conversation with another on the telephone. In the middle of said conversation, one of the parties interrupts, saying, "Would you wait a minute, I have another call coming in", and then often, without waiting for a reply, the line goes dead. How arrogant. How impolite. My usual modus operandi is to either reply, "Only if that call is more important than this one", or, if not given the chance to reply, I simply hang up.

(2) The cell phone. Marvelous invention, no doubt. Instant communication, anywhere, anytime. And therein lies the problem. The ubiquitous cell phone is used anywhere, anytime. In stores and malls. In restaurants. In public restrooms. In doctors' offices, even in the exam rooms during the care of patients. Their annoying rings, often meant to mimic some great musical composition, are often heard in church services and funerals. Their use is often intrusive upon other individuals within earshot. And, with the volume of some such conversations, earshot can be quite a distance. Furthermore, the content of these conversations, which should be private matters, are often offensive and profane in content. Cell phone users seem oblivious to their immediate environment and their encroachment upon other persons' space.

Oh for the days of BUtterfield 8 and CRestview 6, phone booths, and home phones without all the bells and whistles. A more simple time, for sure. But a more civil time too, as far as phone etiquette is concerned.


Blogger the doc said...

I could not help myself. Got this by e-mail and had to add comment to my own blog.

This could happen to you.

I was barely sitting down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying:
"Hi, how are you?"
I'm not the type to start a conversation in the restroom but I don't know what got into me, so I answered, somewhat embarrassed,
"Doing' just fine!"
And the other person says:
"So what are you up to?"
What kind of question is that? At that point, I'm thinking this is too bizarre so I say:
"Uhhh, I'm like you, just traveling!"
At this point I am just trying to get out as fast as I can when I hear another question.
"CAN I come over?"
OK, this question is just too weird for me but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I tell them,
"No . I'm a little busy right now!"
Then I hear the person say nervously...
"Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the other stall who keeps answering all my questions!"

April 26, 2006  

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