When I was younger I thought I’d be living the life of the Jetson family by now. I pictured living in my high (high high high) rise condo with flying cars and a robot maid to do my dishes, laundry and clean the floors. Yeah, even then I knew I’d hate cleaning floors. As a child growing up in a time when books, movies and even cartoons had a heavy sci-fi leaning I thought I was prepared for the future culture, but that wasn’t so.
My contemporaries and I were prepared for flying cars, teleportation, instant meals, robots, replicants, virtual reality and snazzy jumpsuits. And while Star Trek may have touched on the moral gray area of the holodeck I don’t seem to recall my sci-fi upbringing touching on the etiquette and moral implications of instant mass communication. There was no “How to behave on social networks” manual being passed around. It seemed to sneak into our culture and then explode. Like any community, sites have laws, rules or codes of conduct. But those are legal issues. Technical issues. There are trolls and hostile users and spammers. But those are not the etiquette issues of which I’m writing.
I’m thinking of people finding out a loved one is dead because someone posted it on facebook. Mothers learning they’ll become grandmothers because someone blogged about it. Kids finding out their parent is in the hospital because a family member tweeted it in passing. In this age of instant communication do we need a manners lesson? How would I feel if I learned something life altering about my daughter, father, mother, sibling or loved one because of a status update?
Yet I see it over and over again. My family is just as guilty as any other and I’ve seen hurt feelings running rampant. And with good reason, people behave thoughtlessly and someone is bound to be wounded.
Is this an issue of navigating the future world we live in or just a matter of common decency? While having a thick skin isn’t such a bad idea, I think it’s important that we find a way to navigate the world keeping others in mind and find a way to teach future generations to do the same.
Or we can all become part machine. You know, whichever.