On Courtesy

I’ve been meaning to do a better job of posting on the blog, but when I’m drafting most of my creativity goes into the book. Fortunately, I have enough cranky in my pants today to make this entertaining, I think. Lately, it occurs to me that courtesy is a dying art. I don’t just mean people who hold the door for others, or say “please” and “thank you” to strangers, although that’s certainly a part of it.

Specifically, I’m thinking about the writing world. We’ve all run across users in our journey, those who want something from us, and they only play nice as long as they reckon we can give them what they want. I hate seeing it happen to people I like because it’s hurtful. I’ve certainly been in that situation a time or two, and it stinks, seeing people you thought were your friends turn. Sometimes success causes it; sometimes the lack of success. Either way, it’s an unpleasant revelation.

Being courteous and polite to everyone, no matter who they are, is a great idea. Not because they might someday be stupidly famous and they will remember your douchebaggery, but because it doesn’t cost anything. It makes no sense to blow people off or to treat them as lesser beings. No matter what someone else has achieved, we are, at base, all human. Celebrity doesn’t change that–and if it does, then something has gone horribly wrong. I’m not a celebrity by any stretch; I don’t mean to imply that. But even I have people who dismissed me quite cruelly before I sold anything. Now those same folks are obsequious in their desire to curry favor. Do they honestly think I don’t remember?

Sometimes people act like niceness is a crime, something you don’t want to be. But I miss it. I miss the days when it wasn’t okay to interrupt someone’s award acceptance. I miss the days when people were allowed to finish their sentences without being attacked. I rather loathe the new sensational standard, where people are hungry and addicted to drama, and to that end, they put the worst possible spin on anything. Sadly, people seem eager to conform down. We treat each other like nobody else matters; self has become the altar of ultimate onanism. I do wonder if this is how the Victorians felt at the turn of the century, as if civilized behavior was on the decline. The world didn’t end, of course. Our standards merely changed.

But in a world where oil gushes endlessly, mountains fall, sinkholes open, earthquakes rock already impoverished islands, and all people want to do is make fun of Al Gore for caring, where are they going from here?

Posted in rant, whatever

10 Responses to On Courtesy

  1. katiebabs says:

    I’ve been accused of being too nicey nice, a Stuart Smalley if you will, as if that’s a crime.

    I hope no one has turned on you because if they have, they have lost big time! Screw them and the horse they rode in on.

  2. Courtesy matters more than people think-whether people call it karma, reap what you sow, etc. It all comes back on us, and if all you’ve sown it nastiness and bitterness, well then… um, peoples, have fun with it.

    It sucks that people who dismissed you before you sold are now trying to suck up, but it doesn’t surprise me. There are a lot of wonderful people in this industry, but also a number of users.

    One thing that irritates me as much as a lack of courtesy is how often people view a polite gesture with suspicion. Friendship, regardless of who a person is, doesn’t come with some of sort ‘scratch my back’ price tag but a few months ago, I came to the realization that a friendship I thought I had? Well, it really wasn’t. Fortunately, I figured it out before I’d invested too much time in it. :o/

  3. azteclady says:

    I find it puzzling that these days, when one is nice to others, they often remark on it as something out of the ordinary. Call me Pollyanna, but if it costs you nothing in either time or effort, why not do something to help your fellow human being? I just don’t get it.

  4. Gwen Hayes says:

    I totally miss you.

  5. Ann you are eloquent beyond words and every single thing you just said is true. as usual, you rock…

  6. Great post, Ann. So true.

  7. But my goodness, you are so very correct.

    Also, I miss you too.

  8. Oh, man. How hard is it to be decent and courteous? Very frustrating.

    I’m so sorry you were dismissed or put down early in your career. That sucks. I guess the only good thing is that you know who these people are and to stay away from them now.

  9. Michele Lee says:

    I agree with Helen, as sad as it is, this experience, I think can help you be guarded. What I have a hard time doing is interacting with those people who have completely disregarded me/insulted me before I had any small measure of success. It’s hard to take them seriously after that, you know? Hard not to treat them with some sort of suspicion.

    I have found other writers to be among the most compassionate, friendly and supportive people I’ve met, far more that co-workers in other industries I’ve worked in. Definitely one of the reasons I love this job.

  10. Lauren says:

    I agree with this, people are becoming too concerned with drama and self promotion to offer or accept courtesy easily if at all.

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