Did you Un-Friend Me?
Letting our electronics control us is perhaps the cardinal sin of our wee modern age. Your blackberry isn't your friend, set the F-cker down and step away. As a photographer I learned early on that sometimes I had to choose between getting all the pictures and actually experiencing the things in front of me. It stands just as ture for our Ipads and Blakcberrys, they separate us from our world, from our lives. Letting those electronics go for periods of time will let all of us get a little living in on the side. Don't worry I won't tell The New Ipad you're cheating on it with a hike (though Google already knows).
Go outside and meet people. The only way to really be social is to engage with other humans. Facebook and twitter are not substitutes for a handshake and a drink with, you guessed it, eye-contact. Try it out; have two conversations, one with eye contact and one without, which one feels more fulfilling to you? Making eye contact is really important because it shows someone you are conversing with that you are in fact listening and acknowledging their presence.
The Importance of Please
A little please can get you a long way, really. Why do you think manners used to be so important and aren't as much so anymore? Part of it is simply changing views on what is expected of us, a loosening of social norms. But a deeper part of the issue is allowing ourselves to lower our own expectations. Deciding what we want to be in life is part of the path and deciding how we conduct ourselves is key.
Be friendly to service people, when you're getting your coffee give an extra smile to the server. We can all recall baring witness, or being the offender ourselves, to a mistreated wait staffer who took it with a smile. No one wants to be that person, so making sure a few basic manners don't slip can help. Make others around you comfortable, smile and be friendly.
In the grand search of better, ever quicker communication we seem to have lost the quintessential quality that makes humanity a little more thoughtful than say the average mouse. We are separated from the insanity of the wild by our ability to be considerate and social. An easy please serves everyone in a happy society of hectic mindlessness. Even a thank you goes so far in ebbing the continual flow of politeness down the cultural drain. We have gone from formal address with calling cards to four letter text messaging and are perhaps in need of a happy medium (call in the turbans, they never go out of style).
Though it may take an extra thirty-seconds of our ever more precious time it does make everyone happier to hear a little niceness in their day. Why have we given up, so willingly, the basic manners which make life pleasant for all of us? Convenience can only take us so far before we give up those things that make life civil. I, for one, believe it is worth the dent in our calendar to ask with a please and say thank you with meaning.
One fine fall day I was driving along only to witness a parking lot mishap of rather epic proportions; half a parking space, a car over the line and two people that looked in desperate need of a nice hug. Would you yell at your dog that way? No, I'd hope not so lets not yell at each other because it only goes to show the world that we have forgotten our manners and that is never a pretty sight.