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Sarah Maxwell

Manners lost

You’re sitting in a quiet waiting room. The receptionist is typing silently away behind the desk, chatting with her co-worker every now and again. The other people are sitting patiently reading a magazine, doing something on their phone or even just closing their eyes to take a little rest. 

And then it happens; you hear the beginning of a pop song playing on someone’s phone. Now this isn’t a ring tone or even playing on the phone speakers itself. No this is through the person’s earphones which are firmly planted in their ears. And even though they are sitting across the room from you, you can still clearly hear the words. 

This is a twofold issue for me. 1. You will go deaf before your time. My parents would always tell me or my brother to turn down our music. Regardless of how loud it was, it was always too loud. Our parents were always concerned about our hearing. There is a joke among the men in my family about early hearing loss. My aunts would always ask my male cousins if they had succumbed to the Maxwell Hearing Loss yet. In reality, my dad and his brothers didn’t wear the proper hearing protection when they would go out hunting or even just shooting on the range for that matter. But then again that was the time of no seat belts in cars and lead paint. 

So I learned from an early age if I wanted to listen to my Walkman or disk jockey with headphones, I had to have it at just the right level to drown out what was going on around me so as not to get in trouble with Mom and Dad. Most of the time I would listen to my music we would be in the car driving to see family. We were in close quarters, and there wasn’t much room for error. 

And 2. It’s just plain rude. As technology has advanced it seems like our manners have declined. We are so enraptured with this 3-inch screen in front of us we fail to take into account our surroundings and how we may be impacting our neighbors’ experience. In school, I would go to the library for a little solitude to work on my homework. Depending on where I sat, I was ensured of a quiet zone. But every now and again somebody, who thought the rules didn’t apply to them, would sit catty-corner to me and listen to their music at full blast. Eventually I would decide the frustration wasn’t worth it and would lead the exodus out of the area to the next quiet spot.

Please don’t get me wrong; our technology is a great thing. We can get a hold of our loved ones quickly. We can make plans for the weekend without expending the effort of using our vocal chords. We can share pictures and moments with friends. But as you dive deeper into your solitary world, held captive by a small screen, do not forget the common courtesy and etiquette we were taught as children. And if you have children, please, put your phone down and interact with them on a human level. I’m worried we will eventually live in a world where we don’t know how to talk to each other, and all we can do is text or send emoticons instead of using actual words.  

We have a beautiful language full of history. Put the phone down and enjoy the peace and serenity around you.

BCR Design Editor Sarah Denton can be reached at sdenton@bcrnews.com.