Re: Politeness Disease (Was Re: Buzzwords...)

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed May 03 2000 - 13:41:23 MDT

Zero Powers wrote:
> >From: "E. Shaun Russell" <>
> >
> >Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> >
> > >Politeness is a disease I have no use for[...]
> >
> >My $0.02: though I agree with almost all of your post (i.e.: addressing
> >ideas, not people; responding to issues objectively etc.) I personally find
> >no reason *not* to be polite. I can't think of any conversations or
> >correspondances I have had which have suffered as a result of inherent
> >politeness. Come to think of it, most correspondances have been enhanced
> >by politeness, in my opinion; (but that *is*, after all, just my
> >opinion...criticize at will).
> I think I can see Lee's point. Politeness can be somewhat
> inefficient(having to type superfluous characters such as "please" and other
> magick words). But since our conversations are still limited to other
> humans (with all their bothersome emotions and other quirks) I think
> politeness is a worthwhile tool for enhancing human-human communications.
> The programmers on the list may be used to impolitely ordering computers
> around with no negative result, but as Stephen Covey likes to say, while
> "efficiency" may work best with *things* it is "effectiveness" (which
> includes such niceties as courtesy and politeness) which works best with
> *people*.

Lack of politeness is useful in venues where all participants do not
value politeness, even then its rather easy for people who emotionally
vested to get their danders up in a fluff. Outside of that, it degrades
efficiency because some people who feel put upon and others who aren't
considerate enough to consider how others might feel to have themselves
or other denigrated will wind up wasting bandwidth talking past each
other's blind spots. Then you also get wasted bandwidth from people
discussing rudeness vs. politeness....

On the flip side a benefit of rudeness, at least among intelligent and
rational participants in a discussion, should serve to notify the target
of rudeness that someone they otherwise respect has serious issues with
your statements. Best to check your assumptions. It should be recognised
that there is a vast difference between calling an idea stupid and
calling the other participant stupid. However a person should not simply
sau such a thing, they should provide credible refutation as to why an
idea is stupid.

Its rather simple: politeness is social lubricant. Complaining about
typing a few more characters for words like 'please' etc. is a cop out,
since such terms are much abbreviated from the old forms of 'wherefore
art thou's', 'where to for's', 'if it pleaseth thou's, etc...

Making efficiency of word utilizaiton the only important part of a
debate of conversation will reduce us to merely grunting primates that
whack each other when one's growl is not properly interpreted.

Mike Lorrey

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