Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Is Facebook taking away our sense of decency?

A generation ago, the Manhattans offered the ultimate breakup manual in the No. 1 hit Let's Just Kiss and Say Goodbye.

The sorrowful baritone voice of Blue Lovett told his girl it was the saddest day in his life. He said he wanted to hold her one more time. He told her not to look back after she turned and walked away because he wanted to remember her just like this.

Today, that tune might be called Let's Just Text and Disconnect.

We've got people breaking up with texts, canceling important dates via Facebook and delivering news of their divorce on Twitter.

Are we losing our sense of decency?

Don't get me wrong. While generally being slow to warm to new technology, I embrace new communication tools.

Facebook, in particular, reconnects old friends and deepens new relationships in ways I never imagined. I even used it to query people about this subject.

But when it comes to negative news, we need to ask, "What's the best way for me to deliver this message?"

It's about common courtesy. A new rule I've adopted is deliver regrets, such as canceling a lunch date, over the telephone.

It's important for someone to hear the disappointment in my voice, and tone and sincerity can't be captured in a text.

As for relationships, it's unbelievable that someone would break it off with a text or by changing their status. Not only is it cold and uncaring, in my mind it suggests that all the time that person spent with you was pointless.

What did the Eagles say about Wasted Time?

But for every person who says the new technology gives decent people a way to escape difficult conversations, another says the technology is being blamed for something that started long ago.

One friend told me that after six months of dating, a guy just stopped calling her friend and wouldn't return her calls.

Another guy back in the day actually disconnected his phone and moved away without notice.

"People who were going to behave in that cowardly manner just have a new tool to do it," said Julia Gorzka, founder of the social networking site brandtampa.com.

"They have a new place, but they were probably going to do it anyway."

In the end, we have to find a way to enjoy the advantages of new social media without abandoning all that we gain through more conventional forms of communication.

Sure, I've joined in on some pretty good threads on Facebook, but does that beat the stimulating face-to-face conversation you can have with friends down at the pub?

Yes, you can express the importance of a friendship by going UPPERCASE and using smiley faces, but doesn't that expression mean just a little bit more in voice form?

Even snail mail — you know, actually taking pen to paper — has a place and value.

"Since my husband is in the military, the letters we are writing to each other are real treasures," said LaVerne Anderson, whose husband Jason is in the Army. "As hard as it is to be separated from him, every time I open the mailbox and see his handwriting on the outside of the envelope, it makes me smile."

Maybe everyone should sit down and write a letter to someone they love.

That's all I'm saying.

Is Facebook taking away our sense of decency? 10/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 11:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fox renewed O'Reilly contract despite knowing of allegations

    Nation

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Fox News Channel says the company knew a news analyst planned to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O'Reilly when it renewed the popular personality's contract in February.

    Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly appears on the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel in April following reports that several women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. [Associated Press file]
  2. Conviction overturned 30 years later in neo-Nazi murder case

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A judge on Friday overturned the murder conviction of Dean McKee now that new evidence has raised doubt about McKee's guilt in a Tampa slaying that occurred nearly three decades ago when he was 16.

    In 1987, a St. Petersburg Times reporter interviewed Dean McKee for a story about young skinheads in Tampa. [Times | 1987]
  3. Experts have some theories on who's carrying out Seminole Heights killings

    Crime

    The words serial killer tend to conjure an image of a middle-aged white man, likely a loner. He stabs or chokes or strangles, murdering up close for the thrill, straight out of central casting.

    A memorial was set up where Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found shot to death in Seminole Heights. Some experts who have reviewed information in the case say that whoever is behind the three Seminole Heights killings may live in the area. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  4. Late fumble, field goal send Florida State to another loss

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher didn't have an explanation for the turning point in Saturday's 31-28 last-second loss to Louisville.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson gets past Florida State's Matthew Thomas to score in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC102
  5. Funeral starts for soldier at center of Trump fight

    Military

    COOPER CITY, Fla. (AP) — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102