The Oxford dictionary folks have again published the list of most used new words and “Selphy” is number one. Selphy is attributed to an Australian man and describes the self-portrait taken by the new generation smart phone’s camera. Let’s be clear, I am not some old crusty fart pining for the “good old days” and have indeed got a smart phone and have taken a few selphy’s myself. This blog is not to take shots at the act itself but the bigger picture of what this somewhat new trend reflects.
Too many people have become self-absorbed and if it only affected them that would be fine. But this me, me, me is encroaching on others and my referring to this issue today isn’t new. Several years ago, I coined the term “bubble people” in connection with personal behaviour that also affected others and myself. A very simple example is people who stand very close the elevator doors and as they open, proceed inside instead of waiting for those inside to exit. People who stop at the top or bottom of an escalator not considering there may be someone behind them. And my personal favourite; people who drive slow in the left lane of multi-lane roadways. ME, ME, ME!!
When I was growing up, I was taught to be completely aware of my surroundings. Part of it had to do with self-protection as having no arms mean I can get pushed over pretty easily but most of it was a very strange thing called “Consideration”. You’ve heard of it, right? Look, tons of people I see act with consideration and help me with offers of assistance all the time. The acts of consideration were defined in the days and weeks following the horrible flooding in Calgary this past June and July as thousands helped often complete strangers clean up the mind boggling mess. But I also see the opposite. People throw crap out the window of their car while in motion or even worse, walk past litter on the ground, sometimes right next to a trash can or my wife, Darlene’s personal favourite…people who don’t pick up after their dogs. Seriously? How big an idiot are you if you don’t know you clean up after your own fricking dog? The answer seems to lie somewhere in between what our rights are and where those rights infringe on others. I suppose its personal but let me give you my best example.
When I have interactions as a consumer, and I travel a ton, I make it a point and even go out of my way to explain my circumstance. One of the lines that gets the biggest laugh in my speeches is about drive-thru’s. I drive a regular car, steering with my right foot and left on the gas or brake (automatic transmission of course). I even rent over 50 cars a year all over the world and being away a lot, I use a lot of drive-thru’s. I used to just pass over my money with my right foot and then one day, my wife made an observation; all joking aside, people don’t normally expect a guy to stick his foot into their space so why not warn them. My first instinct was to answer, “That’s their problem”. Then it occurred to me that, as usual, my wife had a point. A significant majority of people if not over 99% have never had dealings with someone without arms, why would they? One could argue its not my job to worry about whether they are comfortable or not and if they don’t like my feet in their space, that’s their problem. What scares me is how many people with all their parts think exactly like that. ME, ME, ME!!!!
So for many years now, I always warn people, especially at the drive-thru that I have no arms and use my feet and hope that they don’t mind. Not only is it the polite and considerate thing to do, but I find my consumer experience has been enhanced beyond belief. Clearly, we all like to protect our space and should never let people define who we are but isn’t it also the most elementary form of humanity to acknowledge that we are not the only human being on the planet? There are, of course, a few billion of us on the planet and being a little more aware of those folks might even make this world a little better place to be.