Monday, November 10, 2008

Something I've noticed

posted by The Vidiot @ 7:27 AM Permalink

Well, actually, I and Mr. Vidiot.

As many of you might recall, Mr. Vidiot is from New Orleans. And, being from New Orleans means you LOVE the night life. It just does. I've never met anyone from New Orleans who didn't feel at home in a bar. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Vidiot's attraction to bars and night life didn't have something to do with him becoming a sociologist.

Anyway, both of us have noticed that the new batch of bar-goers are lacking in bar etiquette skills. For instance, for those of you on high side of 30, if you walk into a crowded bar and you see two empty seats with two beers in front of them and each seat has a beer coaster on it, you would of course understand that those two people are more than likely outside having a smoke. (Or, as in our case, one of them is having a smoke and the other is grousing about having to stand outside in the cold while the smoking one is committing suicide.) However, this new batch of bar-goers only sees two empty seats. They totally miss the social cues; the two glasses and the discreet placement of beer mats.

Another example; we're in a sports bar watching the Saints lose. Some of the patrons, usually the younger ones, clap loudly and comment on everything, even the commercials. Additionally, the little phrases they utter sound like they were written for a sitcom... which probably means they heard them on a sitcom and adopted the language as their own. They are completely unaware of how obnoxious they are, even though there are folks around them laughing at them and making a bit of fun of them. They're missing all sorts of social cues; the mockery and discomfort they're causing.

Yet another example; beautiful girls in bars. In almost every bar we go to, there are a myriad of beautiful girls in their 20s. Their hair is perfect, their skin is smooth, their teeth are perfect, their outfits are fashionable, their accessories all coordinate. They look like they were ripped right out of the pages of a magazine. However, the minute they open their mouths, they sound like a combination of Fran Dresher and a howler monkey. They don't know how to modulate their voices, they are completely unaware of how they sound to another human being. That, in combination with their lack of imagination with regards to their appearance, means that they are completely missing the social cues; they don't know that their voices are grating or that their appearance is derivative.

Obviously these people function at their jobs or they wouldn't have money to spend in bars. So what's with all the missed social cues? What does it mean?

Well, the best we can surmise is that, at a job, your duties are defined, the bureaucracy is already set up, and the rules are apparent. Reading social cues is only necessary if you're trying to 'get ahead' or not piss someone off. You can keep your mundane little job no matter how socially inept you are as long as you perform your duties as an employee. But, in a bar, there's quite a bit more agency. It's ALL social cues. And everywhere we look lately, it seems like those cues are being missed. People are playing roles, but they're not exchanging social cues.

Sure, you could attribute our observations to us being a bit curmudgeonly. Well, me anyway. Mr. Vidiot is still young enough that those 20-something girls are still within his dating range if that's what he wanted to do. But I don't really think that's what it is. Even what seems to be resistance to the culture is really just a homogenized reaction that they probably read in a magazine or saw on a website. Resistance to culture these days is more transient, more, I dunno, it's like their just 'trying something on for size' and not really adopting the mindset. It's like real goths vs. faux goths. The real goths are few and far between and the faux goths just like dressing in black. Man, I remember the "punks" in the 80s. My word they scared me a bit. They were hardcore and what's more, they were interesting.

So, I'm writing this blog post and I didn't know how to end it. I mean, I'm not entirely sure what it means that they miss the social cues. I know it means something is wrong with our society and/or culture, but I'm not sure what. So I ask Mr. Vidiot as he's dashing around here trying to get out the door, "Hon, so what does it mean, exactly, that the social cues are being missed?" and he replied, and I know he didn't mean it in an insulting way but in a sociological way, "It means they're dumb."

That does not bode well for our society as a whole. Dumb means no critical thinking. Dumb means not questioning authority. Dumb means not being able to say, "I love you" and really mean it. No passion, no creativity, no agency. Dumb means that actual social control isn't even necessary, that only the illusion of it is. Dumb means that as the water in the pot gets hotter, dumb doesn't jump out of the water. Dumb means the slaves don't know they're slaves.

The transformation of our society, envisioned by the power elite, is now complete.

Update: Ah-ha! We're not the only ones noticing.
A few weeks later, the skinny, 20-something gentleman manning the cash register at the pizzeria told me, “I can’t break a 20.” So I asked, “Would you mind terribly if I went next door and got change?” He said, “That’s fine.” When I returned, no thanks or apology forthcoming from him, I said in a flat, non-sarcastic voice, “So sorry — I hope I didn’t keep you waiting?” Confused, he shook his head no. “I forget stuff sometimes,” I said — a cue that went unmet.
Rarely does one find ANY validation within the pages of the New York Times.

Labels: , , ,


At 9:23 AM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

Having spent a great deal of time working Town Patrol for the Air Force in a town with 3,500 registered bars serving 10,000 GIs and their dependantsand patronizing many of those bars myself I know exactly what you mean.

What bothers me is that people have seemingly not improved their conduct or learned anything in the intervening years (1971-now). I guess all we can do is continue or good behavior and hope that they improve theirs.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger The Vidiot said...

That won't work. I fear the movie "idiocracy" is here and now.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

And probably to stay.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger The Sailor said...

>They don't know how to modulate their voices, they are completely unaware of how they sound to another human being.

Being a former sound engineer I've also noted this, but slightly differently. Before I went to LA the 'Valley Girl' accent was just in LA and movies. 10 years later when I moved back to the midwest is was ubiquitous.

It's all head voice with no chest resonance and grates my ears.

I've thought it might be due to the explosion of personal stereos pumping in sound pressure levels too loud and no way for the waves to escape the ear canal. It's obvious they can't hear what they sound like.

OTOH, it just might be herd instinct, everybody in their group sounds like that so they do.

IRT to styles of dress; I've noted for years that most women follow fashion because they have no sense of style. (I'm not trying to be sexist, it's just I don't notice how guys dress.)

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You call it Social Cues & you are right. I find "Manners" are missing. Seems like each generation gets a bit worse. Just having a pleasant look about you, I'd bet it's a Senior you notice. My biggest aggravation is "headlights" I'm being blinded by Halogen or the assholes don't turn off high beams for an oncoming car. OOHHH... That felt good, thanks

At 1:11 PM, Blogger The Vidiot said...

imagine what our great grandparents would think these idiots. They'd probably want to beat them senseless.

At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women's unmodulated voices are a personal peeve of mine. Start with the biggest offenders -- female news anchors and pundits. Give a listen to Maria Bartaromo and others just as well-liked and well-paid. Can't they hear themselves? Can't their bosses hear them? Katy Couric? Now she's cool, but she's the exception. Check out the local news people and the weather map girls! Oooo---Rachel Ray! Now there's a strident one! Aye-yi-yi! Somebody's got to do something about this.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger The Vidiot said...

When I was about 12 and screeching like a howler monkey, my mom, a professional musician, pulled me aside and taught me how to use my upper abdomen instead of my throat. After that, she'd screech right back at me until I got the point. I got it alright.

Good thing too. I have a face for radio.

These young women never had anybody tell them. And the media certainly isn't showing them the proper way. When we're all ancient, imagine how bad they'll all sound to us. I suspect we'll be glad we're practically deaf.


Post a Comment

<< Home