Monday, September 21, 2009

A New World

Monday, September 21, 2009
Ah, folks, this week all I can do is shake my head. Not in assent but in disbelief and maybe even a little shame. What I'm about to discuss may offend some and enrage others. Whatever your feelings are, I'm game for an intense debate. How about you?

Now, let's get down to it. I can't take full credit for this post as it took reading posts by two authors that made me think of it. Edie Ramer blogged about how a school near Boston has removed ALL books from their library. In it's place...a virtual library with a coffee shop. She went on to say that the article stated that only 48 books were checked out the previous year. And then...our very own Beth posted that apparently cursive writing is a fading skill.

Reading these two things really angered me. Angered me so much that I started thinking about all the other "problems" occurring as a result of the times. Such as the fact that many people cannot communicate verbally anymore. They can't make eye contact. They can't call and order a freakin' pizza. They can't spell because EVERYTHING is a flippin' abbreviation these days. They can't write a check or go to the bank and make a deposit. Because they don't know how!!!! They can't apologize for any wrong they've made because they're too busy talking/texting on their cell phone to notice that they've slighted someone. Please, thank you, excuse me...ALL phrases from the past. I can't remember the last time a stranger or an acquaintance uttered any of those words to me.

Oh my gosh! I almost forgot one. Has anyone noticed that there are almost no children playing outside? That's because they're all inside on the computer or playing video games. And then we wonder why we have so many health problems. Hello? Parents? Pull the power cords out!

And...have you noticed that swings are almost non existent and slides and jungle gyms are dwindling by the minute? Welcome to Sissified America. You gotta love it! Except I don't!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against technology by any means. I use all forms of the latest. But don't you think it's important to teach our children basic life skills? Skills that will make them a better, more rounded person? And not just children. What about adults who've forgotten what it's like to sit across from somebody at a dinner table and actually converse?

My daughter is 7 and she learned how to write her name in cursive at the age of 5. Why? because she thought it looked pretty and because I thought it was important. If I find in the years to come that the school does not continue with this important and necessary skill, I will do it on my own and raise hell along the way. Both of my children have learned and use polite manners and will continue to do so if they want to live in a pleasant house.

Now I'll turn it over to you. What do you think of this "New World"? Am I totally wrong in my thinking? Do I need to get over it and get with it? Be honest. Let's debate this topic today!

SIS Barb writing as Elle J Rossi


Edie Ramer said...

Not learn cursive writing? That's scary. I have noticed we hardly see kids outside. As far as thank yous go, I had lunch with a couple writers on Fridays. We've all been judges on writing contests, and we noticed that the writers hardly send out thank yous. One of us said she'd only gotten one in all the contests she's judged.

I've gotten more than that, but in the last couple contests, I haven't even gotten thanks from writers who I've given perfect scores, raved about their entry and signed my name. That's not good PR for when they sell. (I think I got off your subject here.)

I'm sure we'll muddle through this, though the thought of a library without real books does seem wrong to me.

Elle J Rossi said...


I don't think you got off subject at all. I completely forgot about thank you cards and professional etiquette. Great! Now I have more "problems" to add to my list. In regards to thank you notes: Do you think it's laziness or ignorance? In my opinion, both are inexcusable.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mary Stella said...

My penmanship isn't the prettiest, but I use cursive. I remember we had to pass penmanship criteria in fourth grade before we could start using a pen instead of a pencil. Good manners, thank you cards (or at least a thank you email!), basic politeness -- they are all part of the universal civility that should be maintained.

Edie Ramer said...

Elle, thank you cards aren't necessary, though I've gotten and appreciated them. But most contests allow you to email thank yous to the coordinators now. It's so easy to do.

I think it's probably ignorance more than laziness. Maybe it's a time crunch, but just "Thanks for judging my entry. I appreciate your hard work and your comments" would be fine.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great post and I completely agree! My sixteen year old doesn't know how to write cursive, and when I asked why, he said they don't teach it in school anymore.

I hate the fact that when I go out with friends or girls from work that almost half their time is spent texting with other people, many of them, it's their kids. Great they're in touch with their kids, but it's so very rude to the person you made plans to go out with. You know how hard it is to carry on a conversation with someone across from you when they don't look at you because they're texting? And then you know they didn't hear half what you said because in the middle of a sentence, they'll interrupt you to show you what was texted back to them. Every time I complain to my one friend how much I hate what the girls at work do when we go out (as she's texting, too) she feels the need to explain how handy it can be when you need to reach someone and can't call them.

Hello? Anyone remember when we didn't have cell phones? When we had to wait to see someone after work or school? In person? We all did just fine then. Sure, cell phones make things easier, but at what cost? And families that eat dinner together while all of them are texting are just plain ridiculous!

I'm happy to say my 16 yr old still doesn't have a cell phone and won't until he gets is dr. liscense. Even then, texting will be limited. He has a few buddies in the Air Force and National Guard he's been writing real letters to--I love that!

As for spelling and writing, I've seen this very problem in my job in so-called professional e-mails from people in positions higher up than me. I always wondered if it was just the writer in me who was appalled at the wrong words, typos, abbreviations, ect.

On the flip side, I'm the absolute worst at sending Thank You notes. I never did when I was actively entering contests, but it didn't mean I didn't appreciate the judges. Part of that is because I could care less if I get a thank you (and I judge at least 3 or 4 contests a year now that I'm published). I understand everyone is very busy and will assume my time was appreciated. So, first, if you ever judged one of my entries--THANK YOU! If I ever judge one of your entries--YOUR WELCOME! *grin* Now go write in your wip instead of sending me a note. Just my opinion on it.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Mary

I love that phrase...universal civility. Can I steal it? Okay, I'll allow that thank you emails are appropriate in this day and age. They're easy and free. So no excuses there people...type 2 words and hit SEND!

Have a great one, Mary,
SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Sandy said...


I definitely agree with all you said. The common curtsey we were taught when we were young hasn't been passed on to other generations.

I hate to see people on their cell phones or texting while driving. It's so very dangerous to be doing and both cause horrific accidents. They should be outlawed in every state.

I always sent thank you notes to the judges, editors and agents whom I submitted my work to.

Great post, Elle.

Sisters-in-Sync said...


Your complaints are adored by me! I'm sad that your sixteen year old wasn't taught how to write in cursive. That's maddening.

I can't believe how many non-spelling people I work with. I work in the dental profession and have to check all clinical notes. OMG. Hello? I tell them they should be embarrassed. They just laugh and say nobody cares about that anymore. Well I do!

Can you believe my 7 year old is asking for a cell phone? I chuckle..."Oh, honey. you are so not getting a cell phone. Now go play outside!"

I also have co-workers that text or check their phones while in the room with a patient. I'm floored every time I see such a thing. Oh, and I can't count how many times in the last 2 weeks that I've been consulting with a patient only to have them answer their cell and have a conversation without an "excuse me" or "I'm sorry I need to take this call". I should get up and leave the room to allow for their privacy. But I don't. I just stare and blink at them. Perhaps I'm the rude one!

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Sisters-in-Sync said...


Great to see you here!

Ah, texting and driving. So, so many accidents but everyone thinks they're invincible and that they will never be the cause of such a thing. I think stricter laws are in the near future.


Christie Craig said...

Great post and so true.

I think with every technology comes a danger and a downside.

My hubby is an engineer. Smart as a whip. But when we are out at a restaurant, he always leaves figuring the tip up to me, because he can't add anymore without the use of a calculator.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Elle, I'm shocked about co-workers as well as patients answering phones while in the middle of an appointment. Wow. Stare and blink away, though I doubt they get the message. Like you said, a simple excuse me would help, but, still--how rude!

Liz Kreger said...

OMG you just hit one of my own hot buttons, Elle. I am continuously floored by how rude people are. A simple "thank you", "excuse me" or "you're welcome" is soooo needed in today's society. I've held doors for older women who cannot be bothered to say "Thank you". I gave them a very sarcastic "and you're welcome". I don't think they got it. Pitiful.

As far as going out with someone who is continuously texting, I haven't had that problem yet ... but I think I'd first complain and if that didn't help, I'd gather up my stuff and leave. Don't care if this is a friend or not - or if its rude. Ignoring a dinner companion is far ruder, in my opinion.

The one thing my husband and I have instilled in our 10 year old daughter is manners. That child has got impeccable manners. I always say I cannot take credit for how cute she is (she's adopted ... and gorgeous - not that I'm biased. LOL), but I can take credit for her manners.

As far as technology ... I'm all for it. Fortunately, the little darlin' hasn't got a lot of interest in it. Yes, she wants a cell phone (not gonna happen - yet), but she also has digital games, DVDs, etc. Fortunately she's more interested in playing with her friends. Thank god!

Great blog, Elle and a terrific debate. Sounds like the comments are coming in heavily on the side of common courtesy.

Richard said...

GREAT post, Barb! I hold many of the same views, but rather than go on and on about it, here's two things for you:

1st) This bit by comedian Louis C.K. on Conan's show -- BRILLIANT!!

2nd) Not to really sermonize, especially NOT being a parent, just remember -- texting kids, TV-babysitting/activity, kids that can't write with a pen, etc. -- they're kids. They can't buy their own cell phone, buy their own video games, can't argue with their teachers and/or request a curriculum they're unaware of, etc. So, that being said, where does the culpability lie?

In closing, words from one MUCH more wise than I, Maria Montessori (yes, THAT "Montessori"!):
“The task of the educator lies in seeing that the child does not confound good with immobility and evil with activity.”

~Sia McKye~ said...


I'm a strong believer in teaching children manners, how to look after themselves, and be able to carry on a real conversation. There are times I do insist my 14 year old go outside. A moritorium on electronics for a couple of hours. Granted, you'd think his world just ended but there is more to life than electronics, lol!

While I do understand the new electronic books are the way of the future, I don't think taking away the entire library of books and replacing them with ebooks and a coffee bar is the answer. Where are the teachers? Shouldn't they be assigning books for research or just for reading? So I see this as part of the educational system of today.

Keep in mind, kids learn predominately by example. So what are they seeing their parents doing?

Interesting article, Elle. :-)

B.J. said...

Hi Barb, I am happy to say that Bree is learning cursive in school. She learned at a young age to write her name in cursive too.

As for electronic books, I have heard for a couple of years now that all books will be going that way. how can you curl up with a computer or Kindle like you do a book? Many schools are switching thier texts books to computers. I imagine alot of children will start having eye trouble after reading from a computer screen all day.

Tori Lennox said...

I have two words for you, Barb. Amen, sister! :)

It's maybe not quite as bad here in the South. Some people DO still have manners, though the younger they are the less likely that is. We also have kids who actually play outside. Even though I haven't got a clue where they actually live because they aren't our neighbors. LOL!

Sun Singer said...

When I read that cursive writing post, one thought was: so, what are people going to print their names when they "sign" checks?

But you've clarified that today: "they" don't know how to write checks anyway.

Studies show how bad it is for people to spend multiple hours a day with video games. But then, if people can't read, they don't know about the studies.

Don't get me started or my comment will get longer than your nice post.


Anonymous said...

Very well said my Dear. I think you hit it right on the nail. It is very said how our world has become so dependent on technology and has lost all signs of what RESPECT is. I have said many times when we pass an amish family, "That is the way we all should live, life would be much simpilar." Don't get me wrong, I love technology like all others. We turned our cable off this summer and it has been an eye opening experience.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Okay, I definitely don't want to miss anyone here. You guys are fabulous and I LOVE that the comments are pouring in. But if we all feel this way...what in the hell can we do to change it?

Hi Christie,

Hey, at least y'all are polite enough to leave a tip!


"How rude" may be my new favorite saying!

Hi Liz,

Thanks so much for stopping by. Perhaps your sarcastic "and you're welcome" should be switched to "Hi, you must be Ms. Rude!"
Good for you for instilling manners and common courtesy in your daughter. She will thank you for it later and is a better person for it now.


You're right. A lot of this has to start and end with the parents. I'm not sure what happened. Perhaps we allowed ourselves to get too busy and forgot to teach our young the basics. Perhaps it's guilt because most parents have to work outside the house now and don't want to spend what little time they have with their kids arguing over how long they can be on the computer. I don't know but it really is a problem. Both of my children have or are attending a Montessori school. There is nothing like it and I'm so glad we made that choice.


I think the looks our kids give us now when we tell them to play outside is the exact same look we gave our parents when they told us we had to come in for the night. Funny how that works, isn't it?


Go, Bree, go! Tell her to keep learning cursive! You hit the nail on the head with the potential eye problems. That is so true. We'll all need lasik surgery before we're 40.


Southern hospitality had better not become a thing of the past. That is absolutely one of my favorite things about visiting the south. Do what you can to keep it up. I'm counting on you!!!! Are your shoulders heavy?


OMG. You actually made me laugh out loud with your "But then, if people can't read, they don't know about the studies."
Oh, I want to get you started. Comment all you want. In fact, write your own post on this subject and I'll be happy to post it!


Where is Aretha Franklin when we need her? R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!!!!!! Perhaps the Amish have had it right all along.

Thanks again everyone and keep 'em coming!

SIS Barb writing as Elle J Rossi

Tori Lennox said...

I couldn't live without my computer (it's my lifeline to the world), but I think the Amish have the right idea about some things.

Beth Ciotta said...

Hmm. Well, since I agree with multiple gripes and concerns here, I won't repeat what's been said. Okay. Maybe one. I HATE it when people talk on their cells at inappropriate times. For instance, I would NEVER take a call on my cell phone while waiting on a library patron. In fact, if my phone does ring while I'm at work, if I'm not helping someone, I usually just see who's calling and call them back on a break. I mean I'm AT WORK. I think it was Stacey Joy who commented, "Remember when we didn't have cell phones?" Yeah. I remember. You conducted personal business at home, at appropriate times or took a break and used a pay phone. (Are pay phones even still around?)

On the flip side, I can't tell you how many patrons take calls while I'm trying to help them. They're not only wasting my time, but the person waiting behind them. Once, one of my co-workers had that happen and said to the guy--"You know what, why don't you take that call over there and come back when you're finished." I gave her a lot of credit for that.

I was in a Home Depot once with my husband. We went to a cashier desk to ask some questions about something we wanted to buy. Somthing costly, by the way. The clerk took a cell phone call and we stood there for 5-7 minutes while she discussed dinner plans with her kids! I was shocked and disgusted. RUDE.

I could go on.

And like Malcolm, I could write an entire post on lost skills and manners... but I've got a lot of stuff on my plate tonight, so I'll just say... Super rant Barb/Elle. And super glad to see so many posters who agree.

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Me, again. On passing on the notion of respect to the next generation... Today I shelved about building your kids self-esteem, teaching them confidence and compassion in a self-important age. I wish I could remember the exact title. Two things struck me. Teaching children compassion--something that seems to be sorely lacking these days. And 'sel-important age'.

We're living in a time when anyone can be a star, via reality shows, talent shows, blogs, You Tube and Twitter. It's all-about-me has become the standard. Self-importance.

Personally, I find it a turn off.

BTW Barb/Elle, the pictures you chose for this post were eerie awesome!

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...


SHOCK! I didn't even know cell phones were permitted in a library??!! Wow.

I especially like the pic of the empty swings.

SIS Barb/Elle

Olga said...

I'm one of those old-fashioned people who still writes letters by hand (at least, some of them). I think it makes them more personal. Technology was meant to make communication easier, but something - eye to eye contact, perhaps? - seems to have been lost in the process...

Sisters-in-Sync said...


If I received a hand written letter I think I would faint. But what a nice gesture. I think I'll have my children and I send some out soon. Great suggestion.

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Sisters-in-Sync said...


I think there are probably several reasons why the world is a different place today. First of all, I think in most households, BOTH parents must work just to be able to pay the bills. This usually means that someone else is spending more time with your children then you are. And usually the person taking care of your children is taking care of several different children at the same time. So now you have an adult who may not have the same expectations as you, (or maybe they don't have the time or energy to enforce them) and you have all these other children having an influence on your child at a very young age. Maybe their parents don't share your idea of what a respectful, well behaved child is.

As for cursive writing, my 16 year old never had to learn how to write cursive either. He does sign his name in cursive, only because I taught him. He also has NEVER had a spelling test. They say that children pick it up through reading, which here in Florida they require a lot of. I might add that he is a terrible speller and often asks me how to spell even the simplest of words. Of course I make him look them up.
As for video games...I'm with you. Too much! At our house, they may get to buy one a year. But they live in two houses and let's just say I can't control everything. I don't allow them to play too long. I do try to send them outside, but come's about 120 degrees out there. Plus, even when I do send them out, there aren't any other kids out there.
As to no books in a library...WHAT??? I don't want to sit and read a book on the computer. I like holding my book in my hand and taking it with me on long trips (of course I'm not driving) or even taking it so I can read while I'm waiting in the car circle at school.
I could go on and on, and in fact I think I will. You've sort of touched on something that I have been meaning to write about here at SIS for a long time. So I guess I'll continue on Wednesday.

Sisters-in-Sync said...


I'm thrilled that you will continue with this. It's a hot topic and I love hearing what others are feeling.

No spelling test? You've got to be kidding me! Asinine. But I guess that's what spell checks for, right? Oh except when it doesn't know if you meant where or wear, there, their or they're, no or get the point. Oh, I had one of the girls at work write that a patient had a soar in their mouth. I adore her and laughed hysterically but really?

I also read while I'm waiting outside the school to pick up my kids. Prime reading time and I'm not about to carry around my laptop.

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Beth Ciotta said...

Spell Check.

I am a average speller. Not horrible. Not great. As a writer, it's so easy to rely on the 'spell check' feature in Word Document. BUT... I don't take it for granted. I check my spelling and when it's wrong, I TRY to commit it to memory. Try to learn the correct spelling as opposed to the wrong. Leaving it to a computer seems a cop out. Lazy. Which is way too close to 'stupid'.

My hope is that the younger generation uses technology to grow and not to fall back on.

SIS Beth

Elle J Rossi said...


I think we need to do more than hope. We should fight this kicking and screaming. If enough of us talk to the schools, maybe we can make a difference. I've given this a lot of thought today and I'm actually going to call "Drama's" school tomorrow and find out what the curriculum will be for the next few years.

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Beth Ciotta said...

That's impressive and awesome, Barb. Let us know what you learn. And you're right, none of us--whether we have children or not--should (as they say) take this lying down.

What if in additon to cursive, 'printing' fades away? I mean who needs a pencil or pen when they have a computer. Except what if--and we writers dwell in 'what ifs'... What if in 50 years something bizarre happpens and computers... electonics are wiped out? What then??

SIS Beth

Elle J Rossi said...


You either have a potential movie or book idea brewing. Hmmm...this may make you millions. Hurry before someone takes your idea!

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Taylor said...

Great post again Barb!! I just want you to know that everything you mentioned that is fading - cursive and etc. I still attain. And yes, I still go to the bank to deposit my checks. I don't have any other alternitive in my book hahaha. And if you want me to continue ordering pizza's, I'll be more than happy to do so!

Elle J Rossi said...


You are my hero. Keep it up and teach as many as you can. Next time you order a pizza, send one my way.

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Olga said...

Elle, lol on fainting, but like I said, I'm old-fashioned in some ways...

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