I may have been born in Nebraska and lived in the same state all my life (occasionally slipping over to the state of Confusion for a vaykay), but please don’t judge me by this fact. I may have been born at night, but not last night, I’m not still wet behind the ears and I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Even though I’m land-locked, I’m not brain-locked. I love to keep up with the rest of the world, which is why I now have running water, electricity, Charmin, and microwave popcorn. And this gosh darn thing called the internet.
Internet access opened a whole new world for me. I found, and am still finding, interesting information about countries, societies, classes, cultures and traditions, recipes, quilt and crochet patterns, family histories, and last but not least, I met my husband (((big mmmmmwah to Dr K!) via a chat room in Yahoo! (Room # 19, Friends Over 40, to be exact. Will be 10 years ago in just a month or so).
However for every bit of intellectually stimulating info I gained, there were dozens of other bits of “less than desirables”–things I knew existed but didn’t realize there was an actual demand for in depth information, photos and blogs for. We all know what I’m talking about…sexual deviations, gory autopsies, bloody corpses, car wrecks, train wrecks, Walmart. We are eye-witness to every event, issue, word and photo that the world deems important enough to post on the net. And being exposed to these things, usually while we are alone with our computers, we become immune to their effects, and stupidly believe it’s all socially acceptable because no one is there to slap our hands, cover our eyes, and stop us.
Somehow, since the world of the internet has been opened up to the unwashed masses, society has loosened it’s sphincter around polite conversations and manners. Perhaps the Goddess of Civility assumed that, since we can witness it all via the internet, it’s time to consider JEI (Just Enough Information) passé, and accept–no, encourage–TMI (Too Much Information).
Not long ago, Dr. K and I made the agonizing decision to cease frequenting our favorite restaurant, one with lovely outdoor seating, great food, and micro-brewed beer that came closest to the beer he loved in his fatherland. Not because of a decline in the quality of food or service, but because in three consecutive dining occasions, the conversations carried on at nearby tables were inappropriate for any environment, unless that environment was a hospital for mentally ill lepers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just don’t want to pay to eat there.) From a drunken business woman at the next table shouting obscenities and instructions to the poor sap on the other end on having intercourse with his contract and the horse he rode in on, to a woman whose large bandaged leg propped up on a chair blocking the traffic to and from the tables behind her. (“OH, you think it looks bad now?” she said loudly to her companion,” You should have seen it before it was lanced! There was pus oozing out everywhere!), to parents encouraging their kids to throw rocks at the fish in the koi pond, our dinner dates were being ruined by people who exude bad manners and TMI.
We hadn’t gone out for some time until last night, where we went to a local Asian restaurant for a change of pace from our usual backyard summer barbecue fare. The place was nearly empty…nice, until the hostess seated a man right next to us. When I say “nearly empty”, that means out of 75 or so empty tables, she puts this guy at the table next to us, like it’s the last table available. For his sake, he should have asked for a more secluded table, because once he was seated, he picked up his cell phone, called someone and used both his and her full name and the name of his business*. ‘Hello, is this MaryJane Doe? This is Bob Sled, director for SirKidsalot Kastle. I’m calling in regards to the incident that occured today between your daughter Heather and our employee, Don Wienower. Mr Wienower has been suspended without pay indefinitely. We take pride in the care we give, and I apologize for his behavior…blah, blah, blah’.
Hoo-kay…now there’s a bell that can’t be unrung. TMI to the prosecutable degree! Can it be that people today think the world revolves around only them, and that everyone else is deaf? Are they so accustomed to social interaction with just themselves and the internet that they’ve forgotten that, outside their homes, there are still a few social guidelines to make public gatherings a relaxing treat? That there are people out there who really don’t want to know about the gangrenous infection on your leg or who you just fired for inappropriate behavior?
Or perhaps there’s a simpler explanation; parents just stopped teaching courtesy and manners to their children. Yes, parents. Teachers have enough on their plates educating your offspring without having to take on the task of teaching respect. Could be, these kids spend most of their out-of-school time at places like SirKidsalot Kastle and only see their parents for a few hours everyday. And for those few hours, the parents are too exhausted from the workday to spend quality time with their family…and just want to be alone to surf the net.
* Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the stupid.