I’ve stumbled into the stage of life where the world’s gotten too far ahead of me.
I swore it would never happen because I’d never let it. I was just too cool for that.
Blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, multitasking — hey, I could do it all. Only recently have I begun to feel a little blitzed by the leakage of online newspapers, journals and videos that I blot up with supersaturated eyeballs. Not to mention social media and the email tsunami. In fact, I think all this input is starting to make me sick. So, mindful that I have only one cerebral cortex — and one not-so-gently-used nervous system — I’ve been cutting back. For all my tech-savvy ways, I still value peace and quiet and thoughtfulness, including the care of virtual online friends.
All of which, it seems, has become uncool.
My plan got a boost from two etiquette stink-bombs that arrived in my email Sunday.
If you’re a younger reader, better cue your great-aunt. She will appreciate this (Or, failing that, Helen Mirren in The Queen).
Let me explain that the previous night, I’d attended a very enjoyable dinner party and so I emailed my thanks to the host, and thought no more about it. Later in the day, another guest at the party also emailed a thank-you — and copied me. It was a kind of “hi guys” greeting, including a vaguely smartass remark about the host, but never mind — who the hell wants to be copied on a flippin’ thank-you note??? Get real! Since when do you advertise your dubious “courtesy” to the other guests? Was this some kind of weird postmodern irony? Doesn’t anyone live offstage anymore?
I suppose I’ll soon be awarded my septugenarian string of pearls, but I just can’t cope with that much self-regard.
So on to Etiquette Bomb #2.
Backstory: I shut the computer down at 9pm. That’s every night, no exceptions. “To everything there is a season.” I work from 9 to 6 weekdays and I take Sunday off. So never NEVER send me a demanding email on a Sunday night — or any night — that begins with (in the subject line!) “I need….” It conveys the tone of “right now, goddamn it!”
If you want to work nonstop, fine, but (ahem) take a deep breath, consider how the human being on the other end might react to your words, and then write: “Would you (please) send me….”
My response to this individual was to tell her she’d have the item in the morning.
There’s a nice linguistic distinction in Italian: Not voglio (I want) but the more genteel vorrei (I would like). French has this, too, and so, I imagine, do a lot of other languages. Can’t we take the time anymore for the nuances of expression? Why are we in such a hurry to turn ourselves into robotic sub-literates?
Believe me, I felt like I’d nibbled on some magic mushroom and followed Alice through the looking-glass. The distorted world reflected back to me by these two incidents made me wonder if I’d grown old and out of it overnight.
All this has me thinking Big Thoughts.
Why are we here? Do we exist to work our butts off, ending up with repetitive-strain injury to our texting finger and a bunch of wires sticking out of our ears?
There are other alternatives.
Think about it. Life is short.
Life can be rich in kindness and relationships. Or not.
The choice is yours.