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Smith: Less than civil social interaction

Paul W. Smith

As I was saying last week, social media is having a profound effect on all of our social, and now, less than civil interaction. It started with my realization that kids were doing all kinds of things with their phones, other than using them as phones. For example, you can call your son or daughter on their cellphone and get no answer. But while you are leaving a message they text you, “What’s up?”

It was not lost on me that he or she was actually holding the same device that moments ago was buzzing with a call that was completely ignored and answered with a text. I still use email all the time. My kids don’t. Many don’t know how to address an envelope or where to put a stamp because they have never used it. Ever.

Is it Snapchat that disappears after a few seconds? Why? It seems texting is still useful. I’m not sure kids are still using it. Instagram is popular. It’s very easy to use, even I can (mostly) figure it out. My posts are at paulwsminsta!

This new re-evaluation of electronic influence in our lives came up after we signed up for voice control for our TV remote. An anonymous observer pointed out, and got a big kick out of, my giving commands starting or following with “please.” It seemed to be very funny to them. I never thought of it as unusual. Then it struck me: “Please” and “Thank You” aren’t needed when talking to a computer. So where does that put a generation of young people communicating mostly via computers and technology? Social niceties aside, just the tip of the iceberg?

Paul W. Smith is host of The Paul W. Smith Show on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.