Technology and the Death of Courtesy

14 November 2011

Source: Greg Smith MD

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I made my way towards the employee entrance this morning, juggling a briefcase, stainless steel travel mug, and an apple. I saw somebody walking by on the inside, but they didn’t stop to open the door for me or to say hello. How rude, you might think. Well, yes and no. You see, we have these little modern marvels around our necks and clipped to our belts and they control the powerful magnetic security system that keeps the mental health center locked up tighter than a tick on a hound dog. When I got within arms length of the little black sensor at the back door, all I had to do was concentrate, extend my arm, close my eyes and use the Force. Like magic, there was a soft click and I was in. No problem. Luke Skywalker’s got nuthin’ on me, man, nuthin”.

Wait. Maybe he does. Luke had people. He had tech, but he had people. He treated them kindly and with respect. Ok, Jar Jar is the exception, okay…

Today, in our time, I believe that technology is killing courtesy.

A tablet used to be something you swallowed or wrote legal briefs on.

A laptop used to be that wonderful place where stories came from grandparents and naps grew on soft shoulders.

A thumb drive used to mean how you hooked your left hand onto the steering wheel do your right arm was free to go around your girl as you drove down the street

A mouse used to be something you chased with a broom or caught with a piece of real cheese.

What’s happening to us now? Why don’t we open doors for each other any more?

It has become easier to fire off a quick email ( even if it does have a cool template and design) than to purposefully sit down and compose, pen and mail a thank you note.

It is light years easier to send text messages than it is to reach someone on the phone and take the time to have a real conversation.

It’s easier to throw your loose change in a plastic receptacle and never slow down then it is to positively engage the person who works in a toll booth all day long.

It’s easier to read 140 character messages, even hundreds of them, than it is to read and understand the social commentary of Dickens, cleverly embedded in one of his wonderful novels.

Yes, I believe that technology is killing some parts of our culture-some parts of us- that may never be recovered. Time will tell. I love my tech toys, but I also enjoy being loved, listened to and taken care of when I need it.

How is technology enhancing your life?

What are you sacrificing or losing by using it?