The lost art of courtesy

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Along with our respect for freedom and our sense of humor and perspective, seems we’ve lost something else in this modern age of connectivity – our courtesy. And in its void, we’ve replaced it with various guises of non-courtesy masquerading as courtesy.

For instance, there’s the lost courtesy of the client who filled up so much of my time just before I moved that I had to hire help to finish.

Or the phantom courtesy of those who request help or information and who chat away, chat away, only to fall silent when their needs are met.

One of my favorites is the A-list courtesy demonstrated by the person who doesn’t respond to a personal email, not because they don’t have time, but because they don’t deem the email to be important enough.

Token courtesy is asking someone how they are and not really wanting to hear the answer; or expressing sympathy or compassion or caring, not because they’re genuine emotions but because there’s little cost to saying the words over the Internet.

How about the anonymous courtesy of the anonymous commenter. Weblog graffiti. At least the street artists have skill.

Artificial courtesy: the weblog posting, comment, or little note that gleefully points out flaw after flaw, ignoring the possibility that amidst the mud and the dirt and the garbage is a tiny perfect gem – a lovely phrase, a clean sentence, and genuine sincerity.

Finally, in this list of non-courtesies, there’s the null space courtesy:

I’m one of the luckier webloggers who has decent readers who usually stop, and take a moment to drop a comment or two. And I love them to pieces when they do. However, I go to weblog after weblog, and see the infamous zip, zero, nada comment count because those who read, appreciate, and run don’t have the courtesy to take a moment and drop a line. And yes, that’s me in this bunch because I’m just as discourteous as the rest.

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