Thank you kindly.

Word count: 451                   Reading time: 1-2 minutes 

Last week I stood in line at the supermarket. The slender young woman in front of me with the flashy diamond ring and the Louis Vuitton handbag flicked her blonde hair over her shoulder as she slapped down her sole purchase, a 4-litre jug of milk. When she paid with a debit card she kept everyone waiting as her long, manicured fingernails mis-hit the keypad. The cashier gave her the receipt and said, ‘Thank you.’

The customer stared at him blankly.

‘Oh. Did you want a bag for that?’ he asked as he fumbled for one.

‘Yeah,’ answered the blonde without a trace of a smile.

The only thing that made this transaction unusual was the LV handbag. Don’t see too many of those at Lynn Valley Centre

Bad manners seem ubiquitous these days and they are just the start of disrespect for others. Thanks to the anonymity of the internet, some people now readily escalate beyond everyday incivility; they hide behind false identities to sling hatred and vitriol from a safe distance. Read any current events or news article online. Then read the comments that follow. Some incendiary remarks will be posted by trolls who enjoy a fight. Others will be vicious personal attacks directed at anyone and everyone.

Maybe we can’t stop attention-starved people from flaming others but can we set a better example with our own conduct? I know about please and thank you and not cutting people off in traffic but I wasn’t so sure of the rules of the road in cyberspace. Luckily there is a myriad of opinions out there. Here are a few that helped me lift my game:

For writers reviewing other writers’ work, there’s even an article about that:

Why is any of this important to the writer’s life? Because we are all hyper-connected, our bad behaviour is no longer as private as it once was and it leaves a lasting impression. People see the tweeters who run a monologue, never acknowledge retweets, and only tweet in self-interest. They know whose blog they can comment on* and never receive a reply. The internet has rendered the small world even smaller and we need to be careful whom we offend out of simple ignorance.

How are you conducting yourself out there? Are you treating the supermarket cashier with the same courtesy that you extend your editor, your boss, or the clients of your business? Do you value your social capital and does it show in the way you respond to others, in R/L and online?


Photo by: mu_mu_ 

 * Recently I removed the CAPTCHA filter off this blog. It should be easier than ever to comment and I always reply.