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Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on Personal Etiquette

September 13, 2010

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Have you noticed how difficult it is to speak, interact, book a date, or simply communicate with *anyone* lately? Have all of these new communication options made us functionally unable to date, have meaningful relationships with a core group of friends and to keep social commitments? What has this done to the dating scene? Can we really successfully meet someone for a date online with these social problems?

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I think something may have physically changed within our brains as human beings thanks to constant communication overload. With work voicemail, work email, work phone, work instant messenger, personal cell phone, personal email, home telephone, Facebook, twitter, google SMS/google voice, Yahoo Instant Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and dozens of other communication alternatives, each person probably has 12-15 things they need to check on an ongoing basis to continue the flow of communication from their friends and other contacts. On top of this, each website with your bank/credit card company/student loan company/YouTube account/flicker etc that wants to have you log into their website to view a "special message" with a "secure" mailbox instead of using your personal @whatever email address.

With the constant log-ins, medium and website hoping, we have become accustomed to communicating in a style where the timing of conversations has little meaning now. We're accustomed to having a deep, well thought out, extremely brief response that is relevant and (sometimes) adds a lot of value to a conversation. We've also become accustomed to being able to return a message at any time without regard to the amount of time, or recipient urgency, that is required for a response. This has royally messed up our speech patterns. I find myself having meals with my friends where I will simply say something out loud while another person is in the middle of expressing a thought. It's not something I consciously do, but I have become so accustomed to responding with a thought in a chat room while the other party is typing. I now regularly interrupt my friends and start to express my own thoughts on something before they are even finished expressing their current thought. It's so damned rude of me to do and I catch myself doing it constantly.It's also caused any kind of personal etiquette between people with social norms, scheduling, and manors to completely fall to complete disarray. With so many options and the stress of different mediums, It's caused my dating life to completely fall to shit lately. It's caused a great deal of friction between myself and old friends, potential partners, and, honestly - I'm really, really tired of it. Many personal relationships are now failing from this.

I now frequently do not have voicemail messages returned from a plethora of people. My texts are frequently not returned. I refuse to believe people are so busy that they forget to respond to a message that comes to a device that is on their person for the better part of 14 hours per day that they check constantly. I also have people that want to take 45 minutes to text when a simple 5 minute conversation could have solved the problem. I also have people who now have a favorite communication medium. Some people insist I use Facebook to have any type of ongoing conversation or to book social occasions with them. I now have other people who insist on only SMS with cell phones (which I hate). Others, still, insist on a spontaneous call for an event and feel they are so self-important they are better than anyone else and insist on not using a calendar. The irony in all of this is that everyone now has a phone with a calendar function on it. It's just interesting to me how picky we have all become and how hard it now is to book simple social events or get in touch with people. This is stupid. The purpose for all of these mediums was to communicate better and solve interpersonal problems based on previous communication issues. Can we please pick agree on a common standard and not be so self-righteous that we at least look at other mediums and keep our social lives working?

This brings me to dating challenges. I'm looking for someone I have chemistry with and who can communicate well. As you can obviously see from my weekly assault on the English language that my blog sometimes is, I'm obviously not perfect. I'm not a grammar Nazi! The difference between me and your average texter, however, is that I make a sincere effort to have a coherent story or group of thoughts communicated with each of my blog entries. I believe in the use of adjectives. I try to make a compelling argument to get my points across in a succinct and engaging syntax that really describes what I feel. I think describing the intricacies of interpersonal relationships between two men deserves more description than "OMG - Hez hot. WTF is he doin wit him? I want him. LOL". Texting contributes to the destruction of literacy and our language faster than Perez Hilton can spread mind numbingly pointless Hollywood shit-gossip. It just sucks. We have people all over the world with malnutrition, sickness and facing death and I have to hear, frequently via text message/twitterL OMG! Lady Gaga is wearing a meat dress! Who the fuck cares? Honestly!

With these thoughts in mind, I hereby propose the following:

- Manage your affairs with social grace. That means thinking enough of your social circle to keep a calendar and think enough of the people in your life to book an appointment and keep it. If you can't handle something so basic as managing appointments and finances, you aren't worth dating. It shows that you're irresponsible and won't treat and communicate well enough with your partner to have a successful relationship based on trust.
- Texting a new friend or online acquaintance for a date is just tacky. Really tacky. Like lime green shirt with pink dots on top of a pair of Zebra print orange pants tacky. Be enough of a man to call me. I want to hear your voice and get to know your personality and mannerisms through speech. Just because we met online doesn't mean I want to reduce intimacy to text-only basis.
- I realize shit happens in your day, and, on rare occasion you might need to reschedule. As soon as this happens, think enough of the person whom you have an appointment to call them (yes, CALL), apologize, and immediately reschedule. Don't leave an "open appointment" where I have to call you to rebook. Not only does this make you look like an ass that doesn't have his life together, you look flakey and stupid. Not a good position to be in. The gay community seems to be awfully small in a big city. Queens know queens and the royal court LOVES negative gossip. Don't be a dick or it might prevent you from, well.... enjoying dick!
- The phone has, and always will be, the primary communication medium between people. It is still the fastest and most intimate method of communication. If you must text me, consider how long the conversation could go and keep it to less than 3 round trip messages. Otherwise, call.

I can feel the flames coming from this one. Your comments?

- Brad

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