The Decline of Civility in the Electronic Age

Please excuse me while I go on a little rant. We’re all probably guilty of this to one degree or another, but those of us still holding to conventional ideas of common courtesy pay a higher price. Let’s begin, shall we?


We have entered an era of ‘microwave, I want it now’ expediency. Everything we need or think we need is at our finger-tips. This should, in theory, make us more efficient and free up our mind to consider more profound things, perhaps even other people. But it doesn’t. Instead, it makes us procrastinate more and act like ‘there will always be time for that.’ Having been raised with the mindset that it is rude to be late to an event where other people are involved, this makes me, and any of you who are the same, more vulnerable. For example, today there was an afterschool rehearsal for my kid and being conscientious I left work early enough to be there 15 minutes before the scheduled pick-up time. This is, in my mind, polite as I wouldn’t want my kid to have to wait for me. I leave time for the inevitable traffic delays or anything else that may come up. As I wait, the teacher texts and says, ‘we’re running about 15 minutes behind’ so I settle in to wait. An hour later I’m still waiting. Not only do we fall victim to the ‘I texted to say I would be late and, therefore, have no further need to acknowledge the significance of your time’ but we are penalized more so for being considerately early.

This is emblematic of our times. Somehow, we think that texting someone that we will be late removes our responsibility to be civil in our actions towards them. Think about that. I’m sure it happens all the time in your life too. Instead of planning we ‘just wing it’ and assume we can change the plan five times in the next hour because ‘I texted them to say…’ We treat real, human interaction with the same lackadaisical attitude we give to our devices. This electronic drug habit has made us flippant, lazy, and quantifiably uncivilized in our relations with one another. We lack respect for our own time and the time of others while we let these devices parent our children because we are too busy. Too busy doing what? Dancing the cyber-procrastination dance, watching cat videos, railing on our incompetent excuse for governance. And? There it is. We are so busy feeding our brains with morsels of digital pap we allow the unqualified to lead and rule us.

It’s time to wake up. Time to make this technology and information work for us instead of bowing to the almighty instant gratification of meme’s and introspection so shallow it is not deserving of the term.

So, here I sit on social media, railing about the fall of civility. But this is where you are, this is where I am, this is where WE are. Next time you pick up your phone to say, ‘I’m going to be a little late’ don’t. Get to where you are supposed to be. Or at least cancel because it is apparent you didn’t want to be there anyway.

One Reply to “The Decline of Civility in the Electronic Age”

  1. You are right, we have become a people with no sense of civility or care about others. Could this be a result of electronic devices and social media? It is very easy to be rude, careless, even mean in our treatment of others because we do it remotely, not seeing the immediate reaction of the other person, dismissing the whole thing without waiting for a response.

    Do we ask if it is all right to be 15 minutes late? Do we even care that parents are waiting outside, having changed plans and schedules to be on time? Are their plans and time of no importance? You are absolutely correct about this.


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