by Mark “Mom” Finley
June 8, 2015


Eunice Burns (Madeline Kahn) asks Judy Maxwell (Barbra Streisand) if she knows the meaning of the word propriety in the 1972 film What’s Up, Doc?


Hey Kiddleywinks!

I was blown away at all the positive response I received from last week’s post. I truly appreciate it!

Why?

Because my dealings with others online haven’t always been such a positive experience. In fact, some of the disrespect and flat out rude behavior online simply astonishes me.

Some of my younger friends tell me that it’s just the way things are nowadays. I would be lying if I said I haven’t noticed this insidious erosion of manners occurring for years, if not decades. But just because it’s happening doesn’t make it right.

Am I wrong?

Maintaining some values and standards isn’t a bad thing. But I fear that the act of practicing simple courtesy, with consideration for others, is no longer relevant or even understood. Bad behavior, with no repercussions, has turned us into a community of rude, inconsiderate, self-entitled assholes. Where’s the compassion? Where’s the empathy?

I was always told to treat others the way you would want to be treated. I was taught: to always say please and thank you; that there were appropriate times for foul language and offensive references; and, to show acceptance and respect for points of view different from yourself, whether you agree with them or not. In other words common decency.

A few months ago the video If Guys Acted In Real Life The Way They Do On Gay Apps went viral. It was quite funny and, sadly, so very true to life.

One example in the video was a guy just popping up over and over again saying “Hi,” only to be repeatedly ignored. When I saw that, my first thought was: Uh oh, am I that guy?

But then I thought more about it. What‘s wrong with saying hello? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to say when meeting someone?

When I mentioned that scenario to a friend he told me that he just wished guys like that would get the hint. What hint? Sure, YOU know the guy doesn’t interest you. But HE doesn’t. How can he know for sure that your lack of response is lack of interest?

My friend never just told guys that like that he’s not interested. That’s not how it’s done. Giving someone the brush off like that is proper etiquette.

So I told him that he should reply.

Why?

Because it’s good manners. I am one of those people who say hello over and over again. Guys like me have hope. We think perhaps it was the wrong day or time, or that you’ve logged off, or that you’re busy. We still harbor the hope that you’ll reply.

It’s a question of etiquette versus manners. Etiquette is a code of rules and protocols that can be learned. It’s considered etiquette to ignore messages from someone online that you’re not interested in.

But good etiquette can still be bad manners. According to dear old Emily Post, “manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.”

Learning compassion and empathy is much harder than memorizing a book of etiquette. It’s about how we interact with each other in all facets of our lives. We have allowed ourselves to become lazy and unconcerned, passively seeking out, or brushing each other aside. Treating each other like objects that are disposable and easily replaceable. I find it horribly sad that more people don’t see this as a problem.

Imagine if that video was how people acted in real life. Imagine if you did walk up to someone you were interested in and said hi, only to be completely ignored. How can you expect others to treat you with respect in the real world when you don’t give respect to others online or on your phone?

A week or so later that friend saw me out and said “Thank you. You were right.” When someone he wasn’t interested in had reached out, he’d taken a few seconds to type “Sorry, not interested. Hope you find what you’re looking for,” and received a nice thank you in response. Since then, he said, he’s made an effort to change.

Granted such is not always going to be the outcome.

I’ve had other friends say they’ve gotten back a veritable diatribe from people who say they felt scorned. One friend was hounded with a demand to explain his lack of interest. Even when he tried to be nice, the other person flew off the handle. I assured him that he had done nothing wrong.

This time, it was the person responding who had bad manners.

I understand this reaction, though. I often want to ask a guy the reasons I don’t float his boat. In the end, it’s really none of my business, though, nor should it be my concern.

It comes down to the age old problem of looking to others to find your own self-worth. Which is always the wrong place to look. Hook-up sites and apps are not the best place for people who have a hard time with rejection. Nor are they the place for those looking for a more intimate relationship. They’re just not the right venues. Sure, you can make an emotional connection on an app like that, but they’re really meant to provide a space for those who are just looking to get off. There’s nothing wrong with that. But physical intimacy (sex) is not that same thing as emotional intimacy (relationship).

Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of making that distinction.

I know plenty of guys who hook up left and right, but then complain to me that they’re not in a relationship. If they’re truly seeking intimacy, I tell them, maybe sending someone your dick pic and saying “Let’s meet up” isn’t the way to go.

Of course, not everyone is looking for that style of romantic entanglement. But it’s my experience that you must become the type of guy you’re looking for in order to attract him. So if you’re someone who is interested in a romantic bond you need to pursue it regardless of the endless stream of hot guys appearing on your phone.

We live in a crazy world. I sometimes find it hard to make sense of anything. Are people being rude or entertaining? Public humiliation has become a spectator sport and improving one’s manners is considered a waste of time.

People need to take a step back and really look at what’s happening. Be aware of something or someone other than yourself and what’s happening on your phone.

Be good. Behave. Treat others better than yourself. Always wear a clean pair of underwear. And remember: you’re not alone. You’ve got me!

M’wah – M.