Thursday, January 04, 2018

A Less "Civil" Society

Am I just getting less tolerant as I get older or are we becoming less and less civil? It's a question that I seem to be asking more and more as people around me (and by that I mean other drivers, shoppers and gym users) ignore simple courtesies and are absorbed in their own little worlds.

New technology doesn't seem to have helped. It annoys me when I see someone at the counter in a shop or at the till on their 'phone. The person behind the counter is deemed less important, or so it seems, than the buzzing and beeping smart 'phone that appears to be glued to the palm of their hand. Am I alone in asking permission from the shop assistant to take a call? Probably.

I get frustrated, and yes annoyed, when I stand aside to let someone through the door and they don't acknowledge it because they too busy on their 'phone or lost in their own little world, head encased in  a large pair of headphones. It's just about all I can do hold back a muttered, "You're welcome," as I hold open a door and some ear-plugged, lycra coated gym bunny waltzes through without a smile or thank you in acknowledgement of my generous courtesy.

Of course there are still people who say thank you when you hold a door for them; who, despite being in the middle of a call, give you a nod or smile of appreciation because you step aside and let them pass. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there are more of these folk around than there are of the others, but I'm still bothered by it.

Even Siri and Alexa seem to encourage rudeness insofar as you no longer need to say please and thank you when you ask them to do something because why would you clutter your instructions with courtesy when you're only talking to an AI interface-"Alexa, play Jazz FM, please." Perhaps Apple and Amazon should add a parent-type voice that says things like, "What's the magic word?", "A thank you wouldn't go amiss", or "Who made me your slave!"

Being civil doesn't cost us anything except a moment of our time that says we noticed, we're grateful. That is, of course, unless cracking a smile is going to do irreparable damage to your fake tan or interrupt you busy social life sharing character assassinations of your closest friends.

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