Letter: Digital lifestyle not causing epidemic of civic rudeness

I would like to voice a response to the article titled “A rude new world” under B5’s Opinions. I do understand these are … ‘opinions’; however, I’d like to kindly disagree with this article with one of my own.

Jill Bogdan writes about what seems to be a new problem among our students, one that shows we are dependent on technology and actually behave rudely to one another. She goes on to tell that she herself has fallen victim to these behaviors, when she gives the interesting anecdote of talking and texting to two different people at once. While I believe this seems to be a slight problem, I’d like to clarify a few things that I seem to have noticed.

I come from a small … er … well… cramped, high school (263 students in my senior class in 2008). Even there, “thank yous,” “you’re welcomes” and other pleasantries were few and far between. Even worse, before and during school hours we were limited on our technology use. This provided me with an interesting perspective. Within this small, tight community of high schoolers in a rural town, I noticed that if someone were to hold open the door, it was uncommon to hear someone even utter the two magic words.

Upon visiting Eastern Michigan’s campus in August, well before school even started, I noticed a dramatic change in personality and respect. I saw this in staff, fellow students and from shoppers at Briarwood (though to a lesser extent). The majority of people who passed through a held-open door would say thank you. On a slight psychological level (and completely unrelated), it’s interesting to note that two people who have never met will both say “thank you” while walking close together. It seems to me, at some scale, one would expect to hear only one “thank you,” which would then be automatically applied to everyone who follows. But this might just be me, and like I said, it’s completely unrelated.

Anyway, let me continue. From before buying my books to leaving my last class only a couple hours ago, the two words I hear most are “thank you.” I make it a strong effort to hold the door open for people, and it never fails to hear those magic words; and I have to say, it feels great. And more to the point of your article, Ms. Bogdan, these magic words escape the lips from even the most Twittering, Myspace-Booking Pros.

“Why?” you may ask? Because you eventually have to look up in order to figure out where you’re going. However, if you bump into me, I’m sure to laugh, and I predict the bumper would as well – not out of rudeness, but because before technology people read books, finished up homework or wrote fake doctor excuses on the way to class. The only difference is our books are smaller and have tiny buttons. When two students bump into each other, it’s almost a secret handshake saying, “Hey, what’s up? Yeah, I know how you feel, I’m just as busy, too.”

Perhaps there is no sudden pandemic of rudness, but something that’s always been there. And for what’s suddenly popping up, I, for one, haven’t noticed any rudeness – save for random acts of shenanigans within my dorm hall. I think the most rudeness is actually committed by those who are not indulged in their cell phone or other hand-held, but by those who are minding their own business with nothing in their hands but their book bags.

Lastly, if you find yourself texting while having a conversation with someone, either take the hint you’re not interesting (if you’re the offendee) or take a Behavioral Listening class (if you’re the offender). Now, it might sound critical, but I would never do that unless I was really good friends with the person and only if we were just hanging out. If we were in a full, one-on-one discussion, it’d be absolutely too much.

Thanks for hearing me out, Echo. And thanks for the article, Jill.

— Hold on, I got a text … OK.

wait …
… (I am typing a letter to The Eastern Echo *click Update)

Stephen Vela :)

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