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Is Common Courtesy Lost for Good?

Has a world that is driven by technology caused us to forget what it means to be courteous or respectful?

writingThere is no denying that we are living in a fast moving world.  We can have pretty much anything we want at our fingertips in an instant. Through the expansion and development of technology, we have grown by leaps and bounds. The unimaginable has become our reality. However, I’m curious if the simple act of treating others as you would want to be treated has been left behind.

What we have gained in defying the odds, we may have lost in simple human connection.

When is the last time you wrote a  thank you note? Not an email or a message on social media, but an actual note that you sent in the–wait for it–<gasp>MAIL?  Or, how about a phone call to say thank you or to just see how the other person is doing?

These approaches may be  uncommon in today’s society, or if they do exist, they only occur rarely. Let’s make it even simpler. What about responding to an email, especially when someone’s offered a perspective or shared a resource with you? Or, how about sending a personal message directly to a person instead of broadcasting to the world on social media? Do we do that promptly, with authentic, from-the-heart regard for the other person?

I’ve done my best to keep the idea of simple, straightforward person-to-person connection on the forefront of my communications.

Does this sound like you? A colleague or connection sends you an email. This email can be a recommended resource for you or even a quick hello. As you read it, you think, “I will respond to that later. I’m just too busy right now”. Of course you know what happens then, right? You receive a hundred more emails that day and the one you were planning on responding to gets lost in the shuffle. Then when you stumble upon it a week or so later it feels a little awkward to respond. Instead, you just ignore it.

Sound familiar?

What I’m really interested in learning, is if this is what actually occurs? Is the email really lost, or is something else going on?

It is so easy today to sit behind a computer and feel as though we are having personal conversations.  We are chatting away on social media and sending emails back and forth all day long, so why wouldn’t it be personal? Except it is not. Don’t get me wrong, these methods are fantastic, yet they seem to have replaced real forms of communication.

Even more, I’m wondering if the real reason for the loss of common courtesy is an increase in paranoia.

Let me explain: We are on complete Internet overload, especially when it comes to sales and marketing methods. Maybe we don’t even realize that they are there, but open up a Twitter feed or even your email inbox and notice the amount of marketing that is taking place.

This increase in marketing may have left each of us paranoid and wondering, “Why do they want to talk to me? I bet they want to sell me something.”  So we might hesitate to respond to emails or to make social media too personal. We could be building walls between ourselves and don’t even know it.

What if we reintroduced the simple act of common courtesy? What if we broke down the walls of paranoia and really trusted in the gift of genuine connection?

Hmmm, not sure, but I’m thinking that we would all feel a heck of a lot better and more connected.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the act of common courtesy is lost in today’s world? Share your thoughts, I’d really love to hear them. And, I will respond. Person-to-person.


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  1. John Carroll Feb 11, 2013 - 01:22 PM

    Hi Joy, The short answer to your article’s title question is “yes”. The rapid advancements in technology have enabled us to be interconnected as a society on an unprecedented level. However, as individuals, we are more disconnected today than at any point in our history.

    In this modern era of technology, we have relegated fundamental communication to sound bytes, 140 characters, or the 30-second elevator pitch. Rather than engaging in conversations that enable us to build long-term enduring relationships, our communications have become more sterile, computer-generated and impersonal.

    It is time to reaffirm the basic tenants of respectful people interactions. Let’s reaffirm the Golden Rule principle and respect for individuals (RFI) in our personal and professional dealings with others. A great way to start is to spend less time communicating via social media and more time face-to-face, where possible.

    • Joy Feb 11, 2013 - 04:22 PM

      Hi John, Thank you for your comment. Interconnected and disconnected both, well said! As with many new areas of focus, i.e. online marketing, people have a tendency to swing from one end of the pendulum to the other; leaving behind what’s worked well for them in the past and placing their attention on the new bright, shiny object.

      Online marketing isn’t going away – and as our younger generation matures, will they be motivated to pick up the phone to talk vs. text, and get out from behind their mobile devices? I know I’m always energized when I have win/win phone conversations with someone or am out meeting new people at events. It’s a nice mix to add into a busy work week and I plan to continue networking both on and offline.

      I see you have numerous Upcoming Events listed on your site, excellent! Let’s continue to offer those opportunities. Let me know if you’d like to chat. Joy