Texting etiquette and other electronic rudeness

With the advent of portable devices such as cell phones, netbooks, and self-contained video games, an interesting thing has been happening.  Users of these devices seem to be drawing inward and have less and less regard for the real world around them.

Texting (sending text messages via a cell phone) has really taken off in the last few years, especially with kids.  It may be that they are now so used to being able to contact anyone and anyone instantly that it’s inconceivable not to be able to do that.  As somebody who grew up without cellphones, this is amazing to me.

Is it really so urgent to toss off a text message that you can’t put the stupid phone down and talk to a waitress (who BTW is a real person and deserving of a measure of respect)?  After all, the main feature of sending a text instead of calling somebody is convenience.  You don’t get dragged in to a long conversation and you can respond or not on your own schedule, allowing things like … eye-contact with a bank teller.

It’s sad to see two people sitting in a restaurant, at the same table, totally ignoring each other and either talking on their cellphones or texting away.  What’s the point of being there together?  How rude can you be?  What you are really saying by this behavior is “you are unimportant – some other person is more deserving of my time and attention even though I’m stuck here with you”.

Kids do this at home in spades.  It used to be that when company came over, kids either were out playing in the yard (I’m not sure young people are even familiar with this concept, so let’s change that to “playing on the computer in their room”), or joined the conversation and interaction with the guest(s) in the living room.  These days, it seems acceptable for said kids to be present in the living room, but totally absorbed rapidly pushing buttons with their thumbs.  Rude much?  Personally, when this happens to me, I think that if the brat isn’t interested in whether I’m there or not, then I’m not interested whether he/she is there or not and would prefer to do without their presence.

Part of being a parent is showing your young how to behave with other people.  It’s called “social skill development”.  Too many times these days, electronic gadgets are used to keep kids quiet and out of the parent’s hair.  I have to wonder, if that’s the goal in life, then why have the kids in the first place?  If you really want to abdicate your role as a parent, then don’t BE a parent.  It’s very simple.