I must be getting stroppy in my old age. The older I get the more things there are up with which I will not put – and one of them is rudeness. I will no longer tolerate rudeness. Why should I? Rudeness takes its toll on all of us; it’s like sandpaper that scrubs away the veneer of social interaction which politeness oils and polishes. I can do without the kind of ‘have-a-nice-day’ smiley-corporate–politeness, but even that’s better than its opposite.
Online interactions are the worst here. Let’s take email: as with other forms of communication, there’s a protocol; though generally shorter and necessarily more abrupt than letters, there is still a need for ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ For example, when I ask for things on freecycle, I do so politely. I say, ‘is this still available please?’ or ‘do you still have this please?’ and if I’m specially interested I’ll add, ‘I’d love to have it. I could collect today,’ and so on. It costs a tiny amount of time and effort and it reaps rewards. So recently when I posted an item to give away and only received one reply which read ‘Can I have’ (just that, not even a question mark let alone a ‘please’) I decided that no, they could not have, and rather than offer it to this singularly abrupt person I’d take it to the charity shop. In any case I often find that if people can’t be bothered to post properly they can’t be bothered to pick up properly either.
I simply can’t be doing with this. I’m not suggesting we should go back to doffing hats and opening doors for women (in any case these actions usually had more to do with power rather than politeness) but nowadays rudeness and hostility seem to be the first choice rather than the last resort.
I’ve decided I’m not having it – and I’ve adopted the same policy with this blog. Most – nay, nearly all of you, dear readers – comment politely. You may disagree with me but you do so without rudeness or hostility. On the other hand I recently had one persistent commenter whose mission in life seemed to be to seek out a person’s worst features and subject them to the harshest criticism – and sometimes that person was me. When not being bitterly critical they were painting dire prognostications of the future – and one day I decided that I’d simply had enough. I gave them one chance to change, which they did not take, so that was that – all comments deleted.
I enjoy getting comments but when your heart sinks just at the mere sight of someone’s name it’s time to act. I always have in mind this wise saying (I can’t remember the source but it’s quoted here) ‘what you allow is what will happen.’
I have found this to be true in all sorts of areas, from climate change to not voting – and, of course, to commenting on blogs.