Monday, June 20, 2011

Manners

Alamo Drafthouse
A woman was thrown out of an Alamo Drafthouse theater for texting, and she calls up to complain. Obviously, the message she left on the theater’s voice mail made its way to a commercial for the theater to use to inform others that texting won’t be tolerated. I know, she starts out by saying she used the cell phone as a flashlight, but then she talks about texting. She probably used it to find her seat and then started texting.



Cell Phone on NY Train
Then someone catches a woman traveling on New York's Metro North train line telling train employees that she is too "well-educated" to be told to quiet down and not use profanity in her cell-phone conversation. Part of the conversation:

"Do you know what schools I've been to? How well-educated I am?"

"I'm sorry do you think I'm a little hoodlum?"



What do these two examples have in common? Well, I would say that there are two examples of grown-ups (why do they both have to be women?) who are not particularly well-mannered.

When I was growing up in the south, we learned a lot about manners. Some of the things were a bit silly – to pause before entering a building when traveling with a boy/man to give him the opportunity to open the door for you. Elbows not on the table. Placement of spoons and forks and the like. Manners seemed to be imposed by grown-ups in order to remind us that they had control over us. Again, that is a 12-year-olds view of the world.

But then it struck me. Well, actually, it struck me while reading a book by Miss Manners (Judith Martin). In the book, she said that manners have been established in order to make people feel comfortable. I paused before entering a house so that if the man/boy was so inclined, they could hold the door for me. The placement of spoons and forks – the hostess serves food and equips guests with proper utensils to eat the food. Table setting placement indicates which utensils to be used for which food. That way, you can be sure to have the salad fork for use with the leafy veggies and the desert fork for the delicious pie.

For the above examples, I have ridden on commuter trains, and most passengers chose to entertain themselves in ways that do not impact fellow passengers. Most of these rides are an hour or so, and people generally read, work on laptops, sleep and text. None of these activities are particularly intrusive. Please remember that a train is for transportation, and most trains I have been on are a bit loud/bright so that keyboard sounds/screen light is not intrusive.

As for movie-goers, people are at the movie to watch the movie. Clicking on cell phones, bright lights and the like are intrusive to the movie-going experience. The texter does say that movie-goers in other theaters don’t care about texting. Some do, and manners are set to ensure that people are comfortable with social interactions.

New technology has us thinking of what should be socially acceptable. Although not universally accepted, it seems to me that the two people mentioned above seemed to be rude. We are not trying to penalize people and extinguish their fun. We have to acknowledge a few things that seemed to be lost to my generation: (1) we have obligations to others, (2) just because something is legal does not mean that it is necessarily condoned in polite society, and (3) we should strike a balance between individuality and conformity – and conform when it is polite to others.

7 comments:

Knot said...

People love to throw the word "right"around when they don't get what they want. The establishment prints acceptable behavior on the ticket stub so no one has an excuse.

Rights and privileges are two totally separate things. Those include life, liberty and freedom of speech as long as it's in bounds. Just because I have a gun (the right to bear arms) does not mean I have the "right" to use it in the manner I wish.

The bottom line is that people don't want to follow rules when it applies to them.

LarryLilly said...

Common sense and manners are almost a lost art.

As is penmanship

If you cant write a love letter on big chief yellow tablet with cursive pen in a dark theature, then why should you feel inclined to text a tweet to some rube.

I wish more places would allow jamming. Like my house when my sons visit.

Xmichra said...

i agree with pretty well your whole post.

I don't think it's nessesary to be texting as much as people do at any rate. if I wanted to go see a movie with *insert text recepiant here* then I likely would have asked. it drives me crazy that people text while I am doing something with them. I know that sounds selfish, but I feel that if I am giving you my time, I should think that you would do the same in kind out of respect.

Zephyr said...

Too bad that the people who should hear this wouldn't think it applied to them even if they did hear it.

Some people are just selfish.

Leesa said...

knot: well-said. I have a "right to be an a-hole", but it does not mean that I am doing anything good for the world.

larry: I read something about jamming. Apparently it is against the law in many places because of such and such. Not sure why, but I know our school district wanted to do it but couldn't.

xmichra: when I am talking on the phone with someone and I hear them typing at the same time, I politely end the conversation, saying that they seem distracted and I will talk with them when I can have more of their attention.

zepher: that is exactly what it is . . . selfish.

Karen said...

I always refer to the finishing school classes that my parents forced on me. Though I live my life pretty informally on a day to day basis, I know how to act "among people" when I need to be polite.

I hate loud cellphone talkers in public. So selfish.

Leesa said...

I understand acting "among people." I can do it as well, when necessary.