Is common courtesy dead?

Have manners died in the era of social media when it’s so easy to ignore emails or texts? And what about common courtesy in general? I was in the movies last night and some dude was munching lollies and crackling paper all night during a sad (great) movie The Tree of Life while the woman in front was texting – the light going in my eyes. Road rudeness is everywhere. But “email and text neglect” is the worst.

It’s so rare to get a return email from some people that you figure there is something wrong with your inbox. Maybe you’ve turned on spam by mistake? Nope! It’s just bad behaviour that’s all! And lack of respect. There is always the plea:

“I never got your text” or “My email was down for the past few days,”

Which is the “cheque’s in the mail” of our decade. After all, who could argue with the precarious nature of electronic media? The worst display of rudeness comes from those who take calls and texts while you’re with them at dinner or coffee. Read the full story in the Weekend Australian.

And share your views here on rudeness and what cheeses you off.

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39 Responses to Is common courtesy dead?

  1. HELEN 11 September 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    I work in customer service and on an almost daily basis I have customers approach me whilst talking on their mobile phone and expect me to decide what they want, how they want to pay for it and complete the transaction without even making eye contact or verbal contact. Worse still was the woman who waited till she got to the counter to ring and order her fish and chips and blithely say “oh I am only in the ?????? that is okay.” Am I not important enough to even acknowledge? One custmer I refused to serve till he spoke to me asked to speak to the manager so he could complain and he was a third of my age…………….

  2. Lucy 27 August 2011 at 6:06 am #

    Don’t worry about poor old Pat, Ruth, he is just another Narcissist!!

  3. Ruth Ostrow 14 August 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    To Pat. It’s enough now. Please stop writing to this blog. My readers need to know that you have been writing long and I believe inappropriate letters. Your voice has been heard, your initial letter was published. I am not reading nor publishing anything else from you. Many thanks Ruth

  4. Leane 14 August 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Pat Riarchy, you need councelling FAST, your LONG,LONG rant is in itself a plea for help, I am serious, try to see a MALE psychologist and you may get to the bottom [ha ha] of your hate and bigotry. Thanks Ruth, you are a gem!!

  5. alice 12 August 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Hi Ruth
    I am sorry you felt it necessary to publish the rant from Pat. This is how trolls destroy blogs and I thought you had the privelege of being able to cull those emails lyou take offence to. Perhaps you might reconsider. Most of us are very reasonable human beings who don’t need to read thisinsanity or get an insight into a madmans’ head. But thank you for this opportunity anyway.
    With regards, Alice.

  6. Rosemary Harper 12 August 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Dear me – how dreadful to be so filled with hatred. Read “Frankenstein” by Dean Koontz – right up your alley Pat! It is a horror book. is there a sense of humour there just waiting to be released ? (I by the way am a female who has largely supported her husband and family because his money was going to his first family. I have actually never been financially supported since I left Mummy and Daddy !)

  7. Pat Riarchy 11 August 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    I really do hope that others will indeed comment. I predict that those who wish to deny reality will be the females. Those that embrace reality will be men. We shall see.

  8. Ruth Ostrow 11 August 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    Dear Pat this is a really offensive letter. But I am a freedom of speech advocate and so feel morally obliged to publish you. I don’t wish to say any more on the topic and will not respond to you again. However my readers male and female may wish to respond. I hope they do.

  9. Pat Riarchy 11 August 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Dear Ms. Ostrow,
    The effect you speak of is due to feminism. How do I make that connection? I take it that you have read Robert Puttnam’s “Bowling Alone” and you are aware of his definition of social capital. Puttnam has not yet made the correlation. However, it is clearly evident that the rapid drop in social capital everywhere begun about 5 years after feminism became prominent in any society. There are 2 reasons for this. 1. Feminism promoted the idea that a female only has one life and she is entitled to be happy. If she is not ecstatically happy in a relationship then she should break any commitment she has made and it is irrelevant whether children or men are hurt or harmed. Especially men. The idea of females is to hurt men as much as possible and this has now become a sport. This is nothing less than infantile egocentrism which drives this total lack of respect for men. So men see that they are afforded no respect. Females demand to be treated equally. Thus men treat females with equal lack of respect. The days of men sacrificing their very lives for females is over. Men on the Titanic were oppressing females. Men on bended knees offering gifts to females to have their hand in marriage is female oppression. Chivalry was oppressing females. Men listened and learned. They, like me, treat females utterly equally. Although there is a female society called the Society for Cutting Up Men – SCUM. There is no male equivalent and I would never stoop so low as to be part of any such society. And 2. Females claimed there was a war on females. Clearly the war is waged by men upon females. Females must win the war and destroy the enemy – men. Men know this. But at the same time females scream to be treated equally. Ergo, men treat females as the enemy. And the enemy they are. They LIE about RAPE so much that studies have shown over and over again that more men are RAPED by RAPE LIARS than females are raped. But a man’s life is worth nothing. So much so that a female in WA can ruin a man’s life by LYING about RAPE and she can receive no penalty. This is because if a RAPE LIAR did suffer punishment then this might dissuade a female who actually has been raped from reporting it. Why would a female who has been raped not report it when she goes through the same process as a rape liar who has no problem reporting the lies? Irrespectively, clearly a female life is worth considerably more than a man’s. All people are equal but females are more equal than others. We have a case in SA where a female mutilates her husband and kills him in a most vile way and she is walking free because it was an act of LOVE. Fair enough, I will love females in the same way. A 12 year old throws an egg at a male teacher and he reacts. People are aghast at his actions but no one has said the female should face the children’s criminal court charged with assault because men are punching bags that should not fight back. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner says it is a female’s human right to choose whether she is a parent or not thus abortion must be legal and cheap and generally funded by men through taxation. However, Ms Broderick realises that men are not human and do not deserve the same rights. The only choice a man has is to abstain from sex. So with this complete lack of respect why would men respect females? It’s like saying a Jew should respect a Nazi. Men are just base animals with no feelings so it doesn’t matter what a female does to a man because he deserved it if a female dished it out.

    I was an anti feminist but as of 2 weeks ago now I am a fully advanced misogynist. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was watching a clip of a CBS talk show targeted at females and called “The Talk”. There is a panel of females and a live female audience beamed to millions of other females. On this particular show they were discussing the case where a man asked his wife for a divorce and her response was to mutilate him by cutting off his penis and throwing it in the garbage disposal. This is hilarious. A scorned female mutilating a man. The entire panel and audience were all laughing their heads off. Females all around the world are laughing there heads off going by posts I have seen. But if a female genitally mutilates another female in Africa that is abhorrent.

    Men are not interested in waging a war. War is cruel and disgusting as you would know if you have ever had the misfortune of being in combat. This is what twists men psychologically and psychiatrically when they return from these horrors. So what have men been up to over the last 50 years of this disrespect? We are in the midst of creating a synthetic female. It is happening right now. In 2020 the greatest piece of technology this planet has ever seen will be released. It is a full functioning female android. This is a glimpse of where we were up to 2 years ago; and and and These synthetic females will know more than any man could ever hope to learn in his lifetime. I would suggest you watch the last 10 minutes of the Director’s cut version of Blade Runner for what the future holds for men. This is not imagination. This is FACT. It is happening right now. But WHY? Why would men want to create a synthetic female? Because of the above and more. Prices have dropped already. The first versions were near $2m. Now they are down to $1.1m. So by the time 2020 rolls around they will be affordable to most men. And I am prepared to guarantee success since why wouldn’t a man want one. She will never knock him back for sex and she will be the bomb in bed. She will never perpetrate Domestic Violence of controlling behaviour by denying him sex until he does what she wants. She will look as sexy and beautiful as the customer wants. She will never get old. She will never lie or cheat. She will never be vain or have any sense of entitlement. She will never take his kids or his assets. She will never chop his penis off. Since she knows everything she can look after the baby boys he orders better than any human. Since she knows everything she can diagnose any physical, psychological or psychiatric problem (which will be limited anyway since the babies will be genetically perfect and by 2050 there will be no disease on this planet that can harm a human). She can protect the child/ren better than any human female. No human (including men) could ever defeat her even with a pistol. You would need a bazooka, RPG or an 88 mag full auto with a bit of distance so as to hopefully get enough shots into her before she destroys you. If the house caught fire she would not be on the lawn watching the children die while waiting for a man to save them. She will not kill the babies or abuse them in any way. She will know the exact nutritional and psychological requirements at every stage of life. The boys will not need to go to school. They will never need a sports coach because she can teach them the dynamics of any sport. A man will never have to discard his hopes and dreams and even his very life for a female. That will all disappear. It just goes on and on and on. This is truth. This is fact. Let females continue as they are. They will reap the benefits of what they have sown for over 50 years. Extinction. Men have carried females for the entire 3.5 million years of hominid history. That all ends in 9 years.

    Females are prostitutes who consider a man as a walking wallet and their “love” is directly proportional to a man’s bank balance. Poor men are least likely to have a female partner. The more money a man earns the more likely he is to be married. The yet more money a man earns the more likely he is to stay married. When a female goes on a date with a man she will pay for herself (but not him) if she is certain she will not have sex with him so she does not feel obligated. Which means if she will have sex with him he can pay for it. The only time a female can sue for child support is when a man has sex with her. If he artificially inseminated her with his sperm he would not have to pay so a man is not paying for a child but for having sex.

    Simply put, the attitude of females is such that they have priced themselves out of the market. This female attitude will not reduce before it is too late for females. Projections are that females will disappear from Western societies in about 90 years.

    With advances in quantum physics and the beginnings of controlling our entire universe will reap huge rewards on this planet. No longer will females be needed for breeding and the baby boys that men order will be genetically perfect. The world that men have created on this planet will be fantastic. But there is no future for females. They won’t work so they can’t afford offspring so they die. The decline of female humans has already started. Sperm banks keep raising the price of sperm to get “donations” but it is still not enough of an incentive. There is no need. The huge leaps made in IVF will be added to nanotechnology gained from quantum physics to create perfect humans. Better than any God has ever achieved. By 2050 this planet will have changed immeasurably and irreversably and would be virtually unrecognisable from today. Females don’t invent or create or build anything so they are a waste of resources. As females die out the population of the planet will decrease and so a fortune on resources can be saved. Imagine what we can do with the resources formerly wasted on females. The sky is no longer the limit. And we have females to thank for that. Without them men would never have done what we have.

  10. Janette 11 August 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Hi Ruth
    I first started reading your columns in the early 90′s when I was in my late 20′s. I am still reading your columns and I am now in my late 40′s. The columns you write have always resonated with me and I wanted to let you know how much enjoyment and inspiration I have always derived from your writing. Your last column on respect – prompted me to write. One of my biggest triggers is people who beep the horn in their car, because you don’t move as quickly as they would like into a car park, petrol lane etc. I have taken to getting out of my car, when people do this, going back to them and calmly explaining to them my reasons for not moving at the pace they would like. It is interesting to watch their reaction. They immediately become apologetic. I have decided, at 47 I have the right to encourage people to be accountable for their own lack of respect.
    Thank you for having the courage and insight to write what you do. It has always meant a lot to me and I wanted to make sure I acknowledged this.
    Regards Janette

  11. Samantha Whiteley 10 August 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Your column last w/e was right on the money Ruth. I was only talking about the rudeness brought about social media with my husband the other day & he mentioned that staff don’t even bother to phone up sick anymore…nothing more but a cursory text. I remember a few years ago reading how hundreds of Japanese employees read via SMS from their employer they no longer had a job. Yes, people are busier than ever but courtesy and consideration are now deemed ‘old fashioned’ virtues in an impatient and selfish world. Perhaps the problem lies with some people who are delusional about their own self-importance? These seem like the worst offenders to me.

  12. Liz 8 August 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Reading Dave and Andrea’s response reminds me of a character on the brilliant British comedy show Miranda. Tilly the young toff constantly interrupts meals out by answering her phone, halting the conversation by raising her hand to shush the others, saying, ‘Bear with, bear with, bear with…’ Because her incoming text is sooooooooo much more important than her lunch friends. We learn better when laughter is involved. I think one of the reasons Miranda is so funny is that it is based on people and situations we all know.

  13. Rosemary Harper 7 August 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Dear Ruth, I think you are spot on as usual – this rudeness issue goes much further into the whole guts of our modern society. Yes, we may be as numerous as grains of sand, but when people cannot support workmates by little and large courtesies, support and appreciate friends and family members – then what do we have? We will pass on, rich or poor, and for what?
    The Dalai Lama says when we die the transition is just “like changing our clothes”. I hope we are here on earth to learn lessons to bring about the spiritual evolution of the human race – for the future of our universe. Meaning goes beyond everyday “busyness”; there are really no excuses in the end.

  14. lilly 6 August 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Ruth you are amazing. I have been incensed by friends who answer mobiles andSMS while at dinner! Also no thank you or even acknowledging staff who look after them. Its not just rude, its thoughtless. It is a real problem today, maybe its the modern style. I will read your article to my children, unfortunatly they wont have time or patience to read it themselves, and hope they take note. Thank you so much for good advice, a little smile, thanks and kindness go a long way. xx

  15. Andrea 6 August 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Spot on Ruth and I like Dave’s response … I’ve had this experience twice with a particular friend who really needs to `talk’ about personal issues. I hold a PhD in Psychology. I book the restaurant, order the meal and sit there like I don’t exist whilst she deals with various calls from her family: a carnival of dysfunction … upshot is I’ve paid for a meal and wine … rather stay home and read Ruth’s archives.

  16. alice 6 August 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Interesting comments but no one has yet mentioned the person who thanks someone for their input but attaches a snide comment about them i.e. ‘Thank you for your input, I can tell you are a really intelligent woman athough somewhat contradictory.’ This is viewed by the recipient as the height of insolence; just because one doesn’t understand the complexities of a persons’ thoughtful argument doesn’t give one the right to be insulting. One tends to show a great deal of ignorance by doing this. Any one else have this problem?

  17. Ruth Ostrow 6 August 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Thanks Guys. I am telling all my beloved readers, I’m moving to a new section of the paper next Saturday week the 20th August called A Weekend Plus or something to that effect, so please come find me. Ruth xx

  18. Dave Smith 6 August 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more Ruth. I compare it to being asked out for dinner and taking your latest novel or a bundle of magazines to read while you are there. It takes the cake when the rude person expects you to show an interest in what they are doing on their smart phone. I just tell them I’ve lost my reading glasses.

  19. Liz 6 August 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Ruth, I love reading your columns. They so often hit the spot exactly. Last week’s column by Bernard Salt on manners spurred me to respond to him regarding email etiquette, in particular the habit of many people, when they do respond, to refuse to use the kind of customary greetings and closings that apply to snail mail letters,
    eg: Liz.

    No hello, goodbye, how’s your father, up yer bum, nothing!
    My younger sister is a serial offender for both the rude replies and lack of replies, though I know that her excuse of busyness doesn’t apply to emails from friends or colleagues, only to me (and I guess anyone else she considers her social inferior). Even when I recently emailed her to inform her that I’d changed my name, still no response!
    Yes, people are busy, but how much time does it take to type ‘thanks for letting me know’ or ‘gosh, why?’ – or even, maybe ‘Tell someone who cares’ and hit the reply button? (She mentioned the email to one of her staff members, so I know she read it. Come to think of it, wouldn’t speaking about it to staff take longer than typing a two-word response? Suddenly the busyness angle loses weight somewhat…)
    And then there are the people who claim to be too busy to respond to sensible emails but love to send you chain emails, those emails that you have to send on to six people in five minutes, including the one who sent it to you, in order to achieve future happiness for everyone in the chain. Om ah, how many people’s lives have I utterly ruined by deleting chain mail requests?
    And as someone mentioned, thank yous for gifts sent in the mail – that’s a raw one for me right now…

    OK, I’m getting email rage. I think 20 minutes meditation would be in order. Then back to work, nice and calm, to finish dealing with today’s emails – politely, efficiently and respectfully. I work on the principle of what goes around, comes around. The people who are too busy to respect others may just find that others forget to respect them in time.

  20. Ruth Ostrow 6 August 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    How lovely hanna thank you so much! Moving after next week from 20th August to a new section of the paper called A Plus Weekend. Please follow me there!

  21. Greypower 6 August 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    AND —– how about a thank you from granchildren for a gift sent in the mail – you stew and stew – did they receive it or was it lost? Grrrrr!

    I made my children (now 40+) sit down and write a thank you note which was a lot more trouble than a simple email — normally I’d blame upbrinigng for bad manners, but in this case I set the example ! Grrrr again!

  22. Philip 6 August 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Ruth several times a day you say thank you to various people & I wait in reply for the response your welcome! No and worse the look as if you are speaking some alien tongue. Bring back the words your welcome. I waited weeks & weeks! That’s part of the problem with declining sales in stores & standard amongst people and there interaction with others! Thank you for welcoming back ,

  23. Ruth Ostrow 6 August 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Ha! What a gem. Thanks Robert.

  24. 6 August 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Extraordinary insight,as ususal.
    Voltaire said,”common sense is not common any more”,that being 400 years ago !!!!
    My partner refers to you as ‘my girlfriend’,all in jest,PLEASE keep up the good work.
    Love it.

  25. Ruth Ostrow 6 August 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Love Office Etiquette – that could be a blog in itself. Can you tell us some more of the rules?

  26. Margaret Harrison 6 August 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Thank you Ruth for today’s article. We were delivering a training session on Office Etiquette recently and brought up this very topic of not responding to emails. Several of the participants said they found simple responses like “Thank you” annoying and “people should just know you’ve read the email”. As a business person who relies on responses to emails and phone messages not to feel, as you say, invisible, surely common courtesy is not too big an ask. Reflect on the fact that we are a small nation and with the current grim economic news, may need help from each other at some point. Those people who have manners will come first for me!

  27. harry martin 6 August 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Good morning Ruth Ostrow and readers, I suspect the glue that stops any society falling into total chaos and anarchy is courteousy and respect of others.
    When my children were at school I told them to thank their teachers at year’s end. I pointed out that if you thank someone it leaves them more likely to want to help you again. Am always appalled when people are being served at tables or events when it is as if the waiters don’t exist.
    Ultimately it is to our own advantage to be polite.

  28. Robert Graham 6 August 2011 at 9:16 am #

    I have often asked people “if your phone rings do you answer it with silence?” they say of course not. Then I ask ” then what is the difference if you receieve an email and don’t acknowledge it?”

  29. Ruth Ostrow 5 August 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    I Josephine thanks for your Twitter as well. I found the French rude if you didn’t speak French. But I agree with you about crossings and how much time or effort does it take to let someone out of a street when they are turning on to the road in busy traffic where you are only going to creep along anyway. Horrible stuff.

  30. Josephine 5 August 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I find that people don’t stop on roads to let you through even when you are at the crossing with a small child. Sales assistants are far more likely to give you the attitude even when you are treating them with respect and yes, people seem to expect instant answers with email communication. I love good manners but I do think that we are lapsing in Sydney. When we were in France we were really impressed by the courtesy of the French. I do try to impress good manners onto my daughter but over the years I’ve noticed people seem to be getting a lot surlier in the jungle out there.

  31. Ruth Ostrow 5 August 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    All very well and good unless you are running a business, need to speak to a teacher at your daughter’s school, need a tradesman to return your email, are waiting for payment… you are condoning gross breach of duty and care. I think you need to grow up and enter the real world.

  32. Ruth Ostrow 5 August 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    Don’t think I was condoning the other form of selfishness which is equally insensitive. But two wrongs don’t make a right

  33. Ruth Ostrow 5 August 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Its the same with loud music or eating Jaffas in the movies don’t you find. There are those of us who would not think of crackling a lolly packet endlessly in a sad film. Yet I sat next to one dickhead the other night who didn’t stop. Meanwhile I could hear others within earshot, during a really poignant excellent film (Tree of Life if anyone is interested). Some people blare music outside other people’s homes in the car. Why are some people so insensitive? Is it upbringing?

  34. Daniel C 5 August 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Interesting debate. What one person calls rudeness the other calls efficiency. How to judge these matters. Thank god we are not in the olde days of manners. People are more honest, and if you don’t get a return email, then the truth is, the person at the other end is simply not interested and doesn’t feel the need to fake it.

  35. Renny 5 August 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    I am one of the offenders. I am not rude just busy. I have to prioritise my time, and I think the people who are selfish are those who write long long emails and expect busy people to read them or to respond to their every whim in detail. Texts are the same. My God the length of some of them. We all have pressure on us to perform and earn a living especially with a possible new financial crisis upon us. Be reasonable.

  36. Stu 5 August 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    LOL I think there needs to be a new term Email Rage or Text Rage, to sum up what you are all talking about here.

  37. Sammi 5 August 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Ruth I look forward to reading this. I am still waiting on emails from at least four people. It is like that most days, more usually. I run a small business and it is so frustrating! You try again to no avail. I am busy too but I think you are right it’s not a matter of time rather whether you are a rude person or not. I value those who respond within a short time. It makes all the difference to my stress levels.

  38. Meredith 5 August 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Oh Boo Hoo to you Brian. I remember the days when women were ignored while men read the sports pages or watched endless sports. How the tables have turned. I am single at the moment but as one who grew up with a father who paid his family or wife no attention when there was a TV or paper within a mile, I am glad to see that we are not alone. I say suck it up!

  39. Brian 5 August 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    This is so relevant to me right now. OMG. I have a wife who won’t even look up to talk to me because she is so busy fielding social arrangements. I have used a false name but let’s face it, I am not the only husband out there being shunned.

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