Years ago there was a judge in the local court system that had a sign in his court office. The sign read, “It’s nice to be important. It’s important to be nice!” Whenever I had cause to visit his office I was always struck by the simple significance of that sign.
In today’s hurry-scurry, techno connected world we often forget simple, yet important things. Things such as being nice. And when I say “nice” I also mean polite. All to often I will go to a store and witness how we as a technologically advanced society have lost many of the manners that our grandparents and parents held to be important. The simple act of communication is being thrown out the window, yet we are the most communication connected civilization in history.
I look at my Facebook page and see all kinds of entries that say they were posted from this or that mobile device. Or that this person or that is at some restaurant, club or other establishment. And while it is cool to tell the world what you are doing and where, I offer several caveats to all this communication.
First off, when you post something on your Facebook page that you are here or there, you are offering up an invitation to people that literally could endanger yourself. Believe it or not, there are people that scour FB and other social networks looking for information that they can use to rob or burglarize someone. When you post that you are at XYZ bar, you are telling the world that you are not home. A prime invitation to having your home broken into.
Secondly, when you post that you are at some location, that information can be used by an ex-lover, spouse, former co-worker or friend who may not care for you to show up and cause problems. It is a safety issue, and one that all to often people forget about. I know many social network devotees who have their profiles available to any and everyone. I also know many who have literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of “friends” but many of these friends are simply people that are a friend of a friend of a friend. If you don’t know the person directly, perhaps you need to “de-friend” them. Do not leave yourself open to dangers of having someone you really do not know know too much about yourself.
But back to manners. I will be standing in line at some business, and the people in front of me will be on their cell phone talking away. Then it comes time for them to check out and they are still talking away and don’t even have the courtesy to put the phone down for a minute and talk to the clerk. It is as though we have adopted the idea that those behind the counter are nothing more than our “servants” and need not be given the recognition that they are humans.
On the flip side, I have had clerks do the same thing. They are talking on their cell phone and trying to check out a customer. They don’t even have the politeness to put their call aside to wait on a customer. When that happens I usually will tell the clerk that I will wait until they are finished with their call, and then they can take care of MY purchase. The purchase that pays their salary.
I make it a point that when I am in a store and someone calls me on my cell to put that person on “hold” until I am done checking out, or I tell the caller that I will call them back when I am done. It is simple courtesy to acknowledge the other person. When you ignore the other, you are telling them that YOU are too important to even admit that they exist.
I love the ability to communicate with anyone anywhere. It makes life simpler and to an extent easier, and at the same time it make life much more complex. Do we stay focused in our own little electronic world and ignore the flesh and blood person standing before us? Are we so important that we cannot take a few minutes to be nice (polite)?
Through the course of my professional career I have met many “important” people. Politicians, political leaders, pundits, athletes, business executives and more. The ones that I was most impressed with were the ones that took the time to say “Hello” “Please” and “Thank you.” It is the ones that are so caught up in their own “importance” that they have no time for the “little people” that I disdain the most. I care not one whit how much money, power or talent you have, we all bleed the same color, and all die in the end.
The judge was right, it is nice to be important, but it is important to be nice. After all, if we lose the ability to be nice and polite to one another, where do we end up as a society?