On Not Being Courteous
The other day, my sister sent me a nice email with a question. Well, I
responded with the answer and hit the "Send" button before I had realized
that I didn't even ask how she was doing or what was going on in her life.
Where were my manners?
It is pretty jarring when I think about it, but since communication via the
Internet is so efficient, it almost starts to border on rude. We can
quickly get information from someone else so easily that we often forget
the little rituals of conversation that make human communication so
Granted, if I began every email with the formal introductions of the
1800's, I'd never be able to get through the hundreds of email I get a day.
However, if I haven't talked to a friend or family member in quite some
time, I would prefer some niceties prior to the request (the purpose of the
Perhaps the Internet will get us used to less and less formal manners to the
point, where it will be overly formal to begin an email with, "Hello." I
guess we'll have to see.
On Being Mean
What is it that makes people on the Internet behave so badly. I'm not talking
about hackers or perverts in the IRC channels… I'm talking about how someone
will say things through email or on a website they they would never say to them
The internet has a de-humanizing effect, I suppose.
It is the same behavior we see on highways. People, enclosed in a contained
box, will yell, honk and shoot other "cars" and wouldn't if they ran into the
person on the street.
Is this because the "other" is not human? That is, it is a car or a website,
and not a person. Or is it because we can not see their minute facial
expressions that give us feedback before we even finish our sentence?
Or do we feel more than human (Nietchze's super-man) when we are empowered
in a huge SUV or masked behind an email address?
Sometimes I just want to say to people, "Do you send messages to your mother
with that email account?"
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