New Comm Etiquette

IMG_1438I spent the entirety of 2015 upset, confronting peers, and abruptly ending friendships. I’d go into long rants about communication etiquette and  exclaim “People are just fucking rude…” to anyone that would listen. Every instance where I disassociated myself from someone was due to, what I perceived as, lack of interest and just general rudeness. People were responding to text two and three days later, not returning phone calls, breaking confirmed dates without notice, showing up late to friendly meetings without notice, not showing up at all to friendly meet ups without explanation and all kinds of things that I thought were all bad. It wasn’t until a BuzzFeed’s video popped up on my facebook timeline, and later a tumblrbuzzfeedcall post, that I realized communication expectations and etiquette had changed drastically. You’ll never be able to imagine how fast and heavy this “bag-O- bricks” realization came down on me. I immediately felt apologetic and confused. How long had I been out of the loop? I reason that this change happened as a result of steadily advancing technology while I wasn’t paying attention; even though I am an active participant in all of the new forms of communication. In an effort to help other old farts like myself, I’ve compiled what seems to be the new standard and etiquette for communicating, gleaned from my drama filled 2015 communication experiences.

  •  Secondary communication is now primary (i.e. texting, messaging through apps and social media, etc.)
  • Primary communication (actual phone calls) is now reserved for emergencies and very urgent needs. Otherwise, it is frowned upon and considered socially unacceptable.
  • Responding to a message is not required or necessary as a form of acknowledgment of receipt.
  • It is no longer considered bad taste or fraternizing to text managers and supervisors using your personal cell phone. In fact, it is almost universally expected that employees will give out their personal cell numbers and primarily communicate informally with managers or supervisors via personal cell phones, in the interest of fluidity and ease of access both ways.
  • Response expectations have been extended and/ or changed according to the unspoken, but supposedly understood, hierarchy of importance.
    • Parents, Immediate Family, Significant other -up to 24 hours
    •  Close Friends, Immediate Circle of Influence, Potential Partners – up to 72 hours
    • Everyone Else -May or may not get a response. Not responding is NOT considered rude
  • Snail mail, e-mails, and phone calls are now considered “formal communications” as they are easily recorded and are usually necessary for official, documented business. Using these forms of communication otherwise is socially unacceptable.
  • All content of all communications is informally understood as fluid in nature and subject to change with or without the explicit communication as such. Asking direct questions, and/ or speaking in definite/direct language is socially frowned upon. Not communicating a change IS socially acceptable as the nature of any communication, again, is understood as subject to change.
  • No one listens to voicemails, EVER! (Except me of course) Expecting someone to listen to a sent voicemail is considered stupid on the person that sent it, because, after all, you could have and should have just text in the first place.
  • The use of formal titles is…awkward or viewed as old fashioned, with the exception of universally important people, dependent upon the circumstance.
    • Examples
      • Dr. Doe, John, expected while in a hospital or presently practicing in their field of expertise. John, no title, otherwise.
      •  Mr. President/ Ms. President
      •  There is no longer a need to distinguish between Miss and Missus.

I’d like to add that I am not at all happy about these changes, but I suppose that the generation immediately before me wasn’t happy about the changes my generation ushered in either. Alas, such is the circle of life. I am having a very hard time adjusting to these changes, not necessarily because things have changed, but because of what these changes seemingly implicate. To give you an idea of what I mean I’d like to point out how not using definite language creates ambiguity. Wiggle room, if you will, for those people that have a fear of commitment or missing out. We all have to grow up and learn how to have difficult conversations at some point. As a society, if we placate to social irresponsibility, we begin a cycle of hurt and confusion that can only be undone by mass conciseness shift. Borrowing from the current slang, I’d say “it’s just not a good look” for us. But, I am not the leader of social shifts. So I am along for the ride just like everyone else.


© Stephen R. Freshley and wordbending, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephen R. Freshley and Word Bending a secret but not so secret blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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