After thirty-two years of thinking about tomorrow, Fleetwood Mac legend Stevie Nicks is finally wishing that yesterday were not gone. The band's 1977 hit "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," which went to number-three on the Billboard music charts, urges the listener to embrace the future because "it'll soon be here...better than before."
Well, tomorrow has arrived and Nicks apparently does not like it one bit.
In an interview with the Associated Press, the singer griped: "I believe that computers have taken over the world. I believe that social graces are gone because manners are gone because all people do is sit around and text. I think it's obnoxious."
Let's allow that Ms. Nicks may have intended a bit of hyperbole here, particularly with her comment that computers have "taken over the world." But as for the fact that manners are suddenly "gone," people have been complaining about the decline of manners for generations. Is it different this time?
Nicks is absolutely right that technology has given ill-mannered people more ways to be impolite than ever before. Nonetheless, people with good manners (and yes, they still exist) know better than to "sit around and text." And do we really want to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Would the manners we might reclaim by banishing computers be worth the loss of contact we now easily enjoy with friends and family living around the world? Could we so readily relinquish the ability to research topics of interest online (including, of course, manners) or to visit (ahem) our favorite manners blogs? Or to be able to send a text message when we're in a noisy environment (say, perhaps a Fleetwood Mac concert) and trying to find our friends?
Yes, Ms. Nicks, technology has enabled new forms of rudeness. But rudeness is nothing new. And (sadly), it's not about to go away anytime soon. Before we stop thinking about tomorrow, let's instead commit ourselves to being sensitive in the way we use the high-tech tools that latter-day science affords us. Modern times call for modern manners. We must simply practice old-fashioned courtesy when using our digital toys. And for those etiquette denizens who still pine for yesteryear, ponder these words from another superstar singer who rose to fame in the 1970s: "The good old days weren't always so good and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."
What do you think? Would you give up your cell phone, computer and iPod in a campaign against bad manners?
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