Back in April, prompted by some things I’d read on the internet and social media sites, I posted an article entitled Is Professionalism Passe? While it was inspired by many different people (most of whom I don’t know), a few of the twitterers and bloggers are indeed characters from real life — whom I’d immortalized in my book.
I don’t know when it became acceptable to reduce every little family dispute or personal problem into a 140-character status, or deliberately misspell (as opposed to abbreviate) words, but it seems that even the most professional and successful among us lose all sight of propriety when communicating in cyberspace. As I wrote:
…The topic is something that has been bothering me for quite some time, after having viewed some pretty idiotic twitter updates and blog posts from allegedly professional, busy and successful members of the business community. It doesn’t seem to matter how educated, knowledgeable or hard-working some people are; in their minds technology, unlike real life, simply does not demand a certain set of standards.
For example, why is it that we’d never purposely spell a word incorrectly in a business correspondence, personal letter or even an email, yet some of us think it’s cute (or worse, cool, as if middle-aged men should still be concerned with such things) to do so in a 140-word character status? I am not quibbling with the necessary use of abbreviations when limited to such a low word-count — I am talking about deliberately misspelling common words.
I get that for many, typing up a cutesy status update just for fun helps to blow off steam and adds a little levity to life — something we all desperately need in the age of Obama. And as I mentioned in the post, perhaps the English Major in me is being a bit too judgmental of those who are simply using social media as a way to connect with friends and family. Still, reading posts like “Getting ready to strangle mom-in-law” is a little off-putting.
Yes, I understand it probably wasn’t meant literally and that mother-in-law was most likely spared an untimely death; however, is it really a wise idea to broadcast your in-law issues into cyberspace, a forum where nothing ever really goes away? And if your wife has already demonstrated she has no qualms about logging into your personal account on a social media site and pretending to be you, chances are she’s also checking out your twitter updates. Unless she either shares the same opinion of her mother, and/or has no problem with her husband disrespecting one of her parents, this seems like a great way to initiate an argument.
But we’re also talking about a woman who brushes off the plight of the unemployed in a terrible economy:
And in an especially egregious status update given the state of the economy, a small business owner with pressing deadlines laments about being summoned for jury duty when so many others are unemployed, implying that those “lucky” souls should be the ones inconvenienced by civic responsibility, not important people like her. Pardon me, but if you’re a busy entrepreneur during a difficult recession in which nearly 10% of Americans are out of work, I’d say a little gratitude — not to mention tact — is in order. Yes, jury duty can be a detriment to the bottom line, but creating a status update bemoaning a minor obstacle and simultaneously taking a potshot at others in retaliation is just plain rude and insensitive.
And after what I’d learned from my photographer friend’s friend, I wouldn’t be surprised if the mother-in-law status update was perfectly acceptable to her.
Growing up, my mom (like so many others) often told me to choose my friends wisely because we are judged by the company we keep; moreover, she did her best to carefully steer me away from any kids she thought might be a bad influence, since it’s so easy to succumb to peer pressure when you’re young and impressionable. However, this logic still applies in adulthood.
For example, I finally had to break away from a friend whose constant negativity and habitual doom-and-gloom attitude eventually became too much to bear. I gave it nine very long years until the sheer fatigue and depressing aftereffects of being in her company made it impossible to continue the friendship. I wish her well, yet at the same time, have zero desire to rekindle the relationship.
Is it possible this standard applies to marriages, too? Can one spouse’s personality rub off on the other’s until that person no longer seems recognizable?
Because the guy who wrote about strangling his mother-in-law — among other inane things — is not the one I recall; he’s certainly not the one I modeled a character after. And he’s definitely not the one I shared some honest, emotional phone conversations with just prior to releasing my book. But he’s for sure the “Ken” I choose to remember.