Electronic Social Rudeness

What is it?

Electronic rudeness?  Utter lack of consideration?  Social media Insensitivity?

I’ve been in several gatherings now, including with guests in my home, where it seems like most everyone drifts to their personal electronic device, phone or tablet, to check their Facebook, or look up Youtube things, to impress each other with.  I’ve been in a room at a social gathering where fifteen or more people, sitting next to, and across from each other, are all locked into their personal device, one upping each other with a status, video, or post thing going on.

I think that’s exceptionally rude.  I think it makes you miss out on the richness that you have in your present environment.

It’s ignoring the people present with you for petty, trivial, insignificant electronic diversions.

Group of young people texting on mobile phones.

 (Photo credit: DFAT photo library)

And it’s grownups doing it! I’ve made it a point that if and whenever I’m at something where this goes on, I’m out.  After all, it is a sign that they’re out with something much more important and of greater urgency than being with me.  My feelings aren’t hurt, it’s more that I feel sorry for them.

The “tyranny of the urgent.”  A friend used that phrase many years ago to explain why people didn’t really practice their religion.  There’s always something more important than meditation, prayer, scriptural reading, good works.  But there really isn’t.  And I don’t believe “the devil” is at work creating that tyranny.  It’s all an excuse.  It’s all a disguise for fear and insecurity.  Funny, people do this even at church services.  I haven’t been to a Zendo in years, but I wonder if it goes on there?  Imagine a room full of people chanting, or in silent meditation, and someone pulls out their phone to take a picture of the others and post it saying “Yo, we’re doing Buddhism!”

Don’t let this tyranny of the urgent rule you.  It’s ego gratification. It’s not “sharing” that’s a pretense.   It’s hiding, and it’s encouraged by the virtual applause; the “like.”

The “tyranny of the electronic urgency.”  It’s oh so important to know right now, right now, before it’s too late, no matter where you are, at the speed of light, what your internet friends are having for lunch, picture, caption, and all!  Never mind that you are having lunch with a real live person at a real, not virtual table.

Instant social media messaging and information dissemination  have great uses, they have sprung revolutions, warned of dangers,  and caused great societal changes.  But so much of many friends’ “I’m in the bathroom and out of toilet paper!” is not urgent to me, and I bet to most others.  Do we need to know that, right now! Really? To the exclusion of our real life lunch companions?  I believe we can do without posting it or having to see it so urgently.

Is it my age; that I’ve been around since before the dawn of personal computers and internet?  Is it my upbringing; that I was taught to be attentive to the people around me?  Could it be my spirituality; where mindfulness need be present activity?  Could be all of those.

Just the other day I hear of a party, where the host put a bowl with a sign by the front door, for people to drop their phones and gadgets into while they were at his gathering.  Good idea!  Gives respect to the privacy of the gathering and encourages people to be present for one another.  They’ll have to converse, talk about stuff off the top of their heads, using their own minds and internal reference points.  Wow.  I think I may want to make a sign like that for my front door.

I wonder too; am I the only one who see this.  Is it a geographical thing, just where I live in Florida?  Are there social, or educational denominators for this phenomena?  Or, is it just the world today…

I hope this trend dies out.  I’ll do my part to try to kill it, I hope you will too.

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