What The Hell Happened To Courtesy?

This isn’t supposed to be one of those posts in which I rant about how Snooki, Honey Boo Boo and Kate Gosselin are a sign that the Mayans were right. My bet is that you better pay your mortgage and be nice to your neighbors because a month from now we’ll be in the middle of January 2013.

On the other hand if I am wrong it won’t matter so it is sort of a silly discussion to start.

What isn’t silly is the growing lack of courtesy and the acceptance of certain practices. I am not talking about the guy on the elevator today whose gastrointestinal distress made me wonder if I needed to pull out my cellphone and text a quick goodbye to friends and family.

That was toxic.

The Email Conundrum

Email has become one of the primary forms of communication for many of us. It is so pervasive that more than a few books have been written about how to manage our inboxes more effectively.

It is not uncommon to hear people say they feel overwhelmed by it. I understand the feeling because it is not unusual for me to receive close to a 100 emails a day which is why I have devised a system for sifting and sorting through.

But that is not the conundrum I speak of, rather I am referring to how it is becoming far less common for people to respond to the emails we send them.

The other day I sent out a note to 35 people and received responses from less than 25 percent of the people on the list. It wasn’t a long letter nor did it require anything more than a yes or no answer.

Would have been really easy to just hit reply and type yes or no but most people didn’t. I don’t understand. I want to say I do because I know how it can feel overwhelming but when someone asks a question it is rude to just ignore them.

Yet we see this happening all the time. Send out an Evite for a party and you’ll find that many people never respond. I know I am not the only one who has experienced this because the boys have said that it happens to them too.

People Who Refuse To Pull Over For Emergency Services

This is something that really irks me. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen ambulances and fire trucks be forced to weave in and out of traffic because cars refused to pull over to the side of the road to let them through.

In theory that is the kind of thing that can lead to a house burning down as well as serious risk to the health of the people who need those emergency services. If I had only seen this once or twice I might shrug my shoulders about it, but it is not once or twice.

I include the selfish jerks who park in fire lanes as having rightfully earned my disdain and scorn for their selfish behavior.

This Is Not Supposed To Be A Rant

I don’t intend for this to be a rant or a complete list of all the bad things people do. Nor am I going to try to soften it by saying that I am guilty of being selfish sometimes too, because we all do that.

It is really just a quick observation.

What do you think? Am I crazy or are more people walking around in a bubble?

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  1. Hajra December 17, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Maybe we are , maybe we aren’t. I hate it when people don’t respond to emails but then I hate it when people want responses to their emails within seconds of sending it to me. I try to put myself in the receiving end and think how I would feel about it, that makes it easier for me to think about things then.

  2. Sapna December 15, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Hi Josh

    I always make a point to reply to all emails, though I have not applied filters yet. May be I am not getting those many mails, I will try to at least open email and trash it, if it didn’t excite me.



  3. Mary Stephenson December 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Josh

    Maybe being bombarded with a ton of emails is overwhelming to some. When I was working we had so many emails, it was beyond ridiculous and on top of that we were expected to answer within 15 minutes. I am trying to do other work and can’t get anything done because of this constant interruption. Then I come home and have a bunch of emails also.

    Okay, so I am off the job now. But when I came home I had like 1400 emails that I had to sort through to see if I wanted to keep any. I was opening 20 to 30 up each night after work, even with that I still had all those. I suppose if a person had a reasonable life there would really be no excuse not to answer a yes or no.

    But in most cases there probably is no courtesy left and we all know some are in there only little world and are oblivious to all that transpires around them.


    • Josh December 14, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Hi Mary,

      I hear you. It is part of why I use multiple email addresses and filters. It makes life much easier, but it still feels crazy sometimes and that is enough to make people want to throw our smartphone and computers into the closet.

  4. Jens P. Berget December 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    You certainly got a point Josh. But, since I was probably one of the people who didn’t respond, I just want to say that even though emails are one of my favorite ways to communicate, I get way too many emails every single day. I have had to apply filters to find the most important emails. And, when I discover an email broadcast, I will read it, but I might not reply. But it all depends on how busy I am. It was so much easier just a few years ago, when I didn’t get as many emails 🙂

    • Josh December 14, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Hi Jens,

      You weren’t part of this email, it was to the guys I play basketball with. If you want I can add you to the list but it might be a long commute. 😉

      I am guilty of this too which is part of why it bothers me. I find myself trying harder to be good about responding, but sometimes it does feel overwhelming so I understand exactly what you are talking about.

  5. Lori Gosselin December 13, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Hi Josh,
    “are more people walking around in a bubble?” Yes, but more. Not sure. I notice the people not pulling over for an emergency vehicle and it bothers me too. I wonder if they don’t hear it because of that bubble they’re in – listening to music, thinking about their lives. I notice that people are slow to dim their headlights on a country road at night. I try to focus on the ones who do (what you focus on expands) but I also bought some of those night driving glasses which dims them for me.
    This way, they can dim as slowly as they like but I’m still okay. 😉 This doesn’t work for pulling over for emergency vehicles, though I notice that when I slow and pull over, others around me do too.
    Got to choose your battles, right?

  6. Jayme Soulati December 13, 2012 at 6:06 am

    P.S. And, just because you like to know who’s sharing your stuff; I just did, but the share button does not have your Twitter ID so you will not know. I suggest you use Shareaholic. Just a thought.

  7. Jayme Soulati December 13, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Or, how about those who refuse to sit in traffic and use the shoulder instead to get ahead? Oh, this wasn’t a rant. Sorry!

    So, what’s your secret to managing email in boxes? I have no system; help a girl out?

  8. Vidya Sury December 13, 2012 at 1:44 am

    A certain state of matter always gives me the giggles and I am glad I wasn’t in that elevator with you.

    Josh, one of my own pet peeves is that non-response to emails. In this day of instant gratification, I too can never understand why people will not take an extra second to “click” reply and add a few words in response.

    Just two days ago, I had a prospect chasing me for some work. We had emails back and forth re the work…then I sent a quote. I haven’t heard from the individual since. I wonder what’s so tough about writing back and saying the rates are too high/too low (as if :-)) But that’s the way it is.

    Oh yeah, and the biggest peeve of all is when an ambulance is screeching its way through the traffic and the %$#@s won’t allow it to pass.

    So what if I wasn’t in that elevator with you. I am definitely in the bubble.

    • Josh December 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Hi Vidya,

      I know exactly what you are talking about. I have had that happen more than a few times. It is weird how you can have a ton of communication and then it just disappears. Bizarre.

      Believe me, you are lucky not to have to been stuck inside the elevator. 😉

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