- and why they are deteriorating.
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Recently, I was waiting in line at the check-out lane of my local pharmacy. An elderly gentleman was ahead of me and moving rather slowly. He appeared to have a slight problem understanding the cashier, perhaps it was his hearing or simply his age. I sensed the clerk was becoming impatient with him as the line was beginning to grow, but instead of trying to be friendly and help him, she rushed him through the transaction in order to get rid of him. It was embarrassing for him, and I was a bit bewildered why the cashier was rude to him.
I have noted the decline of our socialization skills for quite some time, primarily pinning the blame on our addiction to technology, but I think it goes well beyond this. I may not be a social worker by training, but I do have a degree in interpersonal communications and have observed the interplay of people in business over most of my career.
It occurs to me, there are three fundamental elements to socialization: Communications, Courtesy, and Values. I find it intriguing how these elements have changed over the years.
COMMUNICATIONS - is more than our ability to use a smart phone, but rather our ability to give and take, meaning to listen or read, and speak or write. It's not about the technology we use, which will always change, but the interplay between people. This includes being able to read and transmit body language and facial expressions.
Our powers of persuasion are ultimately based on the three canons of speech: Ethos (ethical appeal), Pathos (emotional appeal), and Logos (logical appeal). Regrettably, high school courses in speech have taken a back seat to other curriculum and, in some cases, have disappeared altogether. As a result, young people find it difficult to form arguments and appear to be content parroting what others say, such as the news media.
As a communications major, I would love to see speech classes reinvigorated, be it through classes, inter-school debates, or in-school for that matter. I would even go so far as to allow students to stand on a soapbox in a courtyard to present their ideas. People should be assessed not for just what they say, but their ability to defend their position. We must remember communications is a two-way street, not unidirectional.
COURTESY - denotes our sense of decorum, the rules for interaction. This is based on such things as respect, empathy, patience, cooperation, and common sense. However, students are being taught contempt for authority, not respect, for people such as teachers, coaches, managers, government, law enforcement, and yes, even parents. As such, there is a disregard for the other person's point of view, not empathy. This means we prize individualism over teamwork and cooperation. The technology of today promotes instant gratification, not patience, and; thanks to our dependency on technology to do the thinking for us, common sense is no longer common. All of this tempers our thirst for knowledge, our inquisitive nature, which is now limited to only what we want to know, representing our comfort zone. In other words, we are content letting others do the thinking for us.
VALUES - represent our sense of right versus wrong, our ethics. This has been clouded over the years as we have become more tolerant and permissive of changes in our morality. Today, people naively believe it is acceptable behavior to do whatever they please, that it is somehow sanctioned by the Constitution. The truth is, this is simply not so. The Declaration of Independence claims we are endowed by our Creator "with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The Constitution and Bill of Rights details our freedoms and rights, such as the freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, to be free of unreasonable search, a right to a speedy and public trial, a trial by an impartial jury, a right to confront witnesses, and more. However, there is nothing specifying a right to a job, a right to higher education, a right to become a citizen, a right to free stuff, and certainly no right to do whatever we want. Yet, this is commonly believed by people today. This is what common law is for, to specify the penalties for such things as murder, mayhem, assault, rape, robbery, disturbing the peace, etc.
We now live in a time where it is commonplace to express outrage through marches and riots, where the rhetoric is visceral, if not obnoxiously salacious and slanderous. Again, many people believe this is an acceptable form of conduct, guaranteed by the Constitution. Again, this is not so. Under the first amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people PEACEABLY to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
In other words, there is nothing wrong with gathering to march or protest. However, when it violates local ordinances, due to such things as violence, destruction of property, or the use of obscenities, then it is no longer peaceful and violators are eligible for arrest.
I have seen numerous videos on the Internet where a law enforcement officer is confronted by a passerby in the performance of his/her duty, some to the point of interference. This normally results in the arrest of not just the original person in question, but also the passerby who confronts the police, naively believing they are immune from arrest. I find it particularly humorous when the passerby is arrested, and the original suspect is set free, all because he/she felt they had the God given right to interfere with a police investigation.
So, the reasons explaining why our socialization skills are deteriorating is rather simple: Technology has had an adverse effect on our attitudes, we have not been properly trained in how to communicate or practice common courtesy, and we are misinformed as to what rights and freedoms we possess. It is no small wonder our socialization skills are being stunted. In fact, it almost seems to be premeditated.
For more information on our changing world, be sure to see my video, "The PRIDE Renewal Tour," on YouTube.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Tim's columns, see: timbryce.com
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