Common Courtesy in the Digital Age

As we continue the path of being social in digital terms via the different social media networks, we are forgetting how to be social in real life. I'm not just talking about being socially awkward, I'm also including in that our mannerisms, morale behavior, public display of affection, the exaggerated use of words, fear, etc. Above all, we're losing our notion of being polite, courteous and cordial.

Allow me to touch on these a little further:

I'm not kidding when I say some people, especially teens and young adults, are absolutely oblivious to things we put a lot of emphasis on when I was growing up. Now I'm not trying to make this about "back in the day ..." I'm not. And I'm not that old dang it. I'm simply stating observations here. Some people rely so heavily on social networks that they don't know what is an appropriate handshake, and what is not. I know it's a stretch, but part of me believes that if it wasn't for TV/Hollywood, they would not know how to kiss either. The same group is not aware of their facial expressions, what they could convey and why it matters. Just oblivious. I could probably extend that to include unawareness of one's own dress --Not knowing how much you're showing when you bend over. All of a sudden, everyone's a plumber.

Morale Behavior
The first thing that comes to mind is trolling. It's the ability to "trick" (more like lie) to people. It's yanking someone's chain on a whole new level. Here's the kicker ... and it plays into the "fear" part of social oblivion ... they do so 'cause there's no one looking at them. Because they can't see the person that could potentially kick them there, trollers now have balls. I digress.

Public Display of Affection (PDA)
I probably should've labeled this as shyness. It's good to be shy; keeping in mind that too much of anything is bad. Here we find people that have grown having their own mobile devices; and never knew a corded phone let alone a rotary one. A generation where sexting is normal. I'm seeing younger and younger people display their affection for one another publicly without care. For some, that's OK. But when you over do it and we see tongue, touching inappropriately, etc. it's almost like they're trying to post how sexually viable and cool they are on Google+ (or Tumblr, as the case may be); except they're doing it in real life. I don't want a law to fix it. I need parents to step it up. Maybe I'm just a little too old fashioned. Now, I don't mind PDA, but I do mind it excessively; and I despise seeing it from teenagers.

Exaggerated Words
This one kills me. And while this whole post may seem like a rant, it's really not. It's more about how our social life would be different if the use of social networks wasn't numbing it. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of social media. I am. I work in the field. I just think some people are over doing it a little and it's impacting the fabric of our society. In the case of exaggerated words, well, I can start by saying that the younger generation is paying a lot less attention to grammar and spelling. That, however, is hardly it. I think we're already at a stage where the same group/generation does not know the true meaning of some words. Take "epic," for example. Really? That was "epic?" I understand the use of "that was sic[k]" (the "k" is not often used when expressing a positive connotation). But I don't understand the exaggerated use of the word "epic." Kim Kardashian, on her family's reality show on E! during the episode where she revealed to her sisters she was pregnant, said that she was feeling "excruciating pain;" referring to a stomach pain she was experiencing. Perhaps she was in pain. But she was able to walk, stand, sit, take a car ride (to the hospital), and carry on a conversation. Really? "Excruciating" pain? I might apply that word to passing a kidney stone.

Wait ... Did I just tell the World that I watched the Kardashians. Ironically, I think I just did everyone a discourteous service. Oh em gee.

I touched on it earlier --In short, behind a computer/a social network, people have some serious courage. In front of a real person, however, the same people can barely keep eye contact. There's almost a sense of fear. "Will she like me? What do I say?" And worse, "please like me;" albeit (hopefully) at a subconscious level (yes, that was an intentional Facebook pun).

Being polite and not forgetting some common core courtesies, thankfully, are still around. The problem is the absolute opposite of what I've been describing --It applies to the real World, but hardly in the digital one. In person, at least here in the States, we're very cordial. We say please and thank you. When we intersect our real lives with our digital one, unfortunately, we forget about those courtesies.

Here's an example:
A day or so ago, while on a business visit, I met someone and learned that she's a food blogger. She was friendly and kind, and the conversation resulted in her sharing with me her Twitter handle. I asked if that's an anonymous handle. Mainly, I did not want to be blabbing out her name if the handle was in fact done in an anonymous fashion. It's a common courtesy, I thought. Especially given that I have a few anonymous handles that only a handful of folks know about. I could swear, however, that she appeared puzzled by the very notion of me asking. Perhaps she was not expecting it. I imagine that it's rare that people take into consideration the anonymity with which some of us like to operate.

I don't want to discuss why one would need to operate under an anonymous persona online, but I do want to state that there are some of us who feel it's best to go that route. As such, when you learn that someone's Twitter handle, as is this case, is not her name then the common courtesy should be extended. It's even more so when the Twitter handle is "foodbitch." Why? Because I think the courtesy should be extended especially given how we're judged by every character we type, much less the very handle we use. It is used in virtually every hiring & firing decision we make as corporate America.

So ... what have been your observations about common courtesies in the digital age? Do you have any pet peeves? Share them with us below in the comments.