Has the internet killed civility?

By: Scott Morefield, Luttrell Staffing Group – Bristol, TN

Job hunting is hard work, but it’s not as hard as it used to be. Once upon a time, job hunters had to not only walk 5 miles to each potential employer… uphill… both ways… in the snow… they also had to climb out of bed before 10AM, get out of their PJs, put some dress clothes on, and actually, physically pound the streets looking for work. The job hunt entailed really talking to people and, yes, lots of pain and rejection along the way.

skis helped them get there faster

These days, the job search amounts to getting up, grabbing a cup of coffee and some breakfast, and… grabbing a seat at the computer. Pounding the streets has been replaced by pounding the keyboard. Hundreds of resumes can be sent to potential employers in little time at all. Then, an hour or two later, the job hunter can leave the computer and go about the rest of his day feeling good about himself, thinking his resume is in the inboxes (or spam boxes!) of another several hundred potential employers. There’s still pain and rejection, but your feet don’t hurt the next day.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not denying the awesomeness of technology, the internet, World of Warcraft, Facebook, or Amazon.com. I’m not exactly pining for the old days, but the internet, from online banking to shopping to looking for a job, has almost made ‘face to face’ interactions obsolete, so much so that many people no longer know how to conduct themselves in the real world. Isn’t there something to be said for a firm handshake, looking your potential employer directly in the eye and saying ‘thanks’ for the opportunity to be considered?

when a handshake meant something

Of course, on the bright side, as an employer there’s also something to be said for the ability to wade through hundreds, nay thousands, of potential applications and select just… that… right… one.

But then, when we have to bring that right ‘one’ in for an interview, (because even in this internet age we like to actually MEET the people we send to work) sometimes we’re overwhelmed by the fact that so many people have simply lost the basic ability to present themselves effectively to others.

We could tell story after horrid interview story about people answering their cell phones mid-sentence, not looking us in the eye even once, slouching, putting their elbows on our desk and, worse, actually grabbing things off our desk to ‘play’ with, people coming in smelling like they’ve actually walked that 5 miles in the snow to see us, who have difficulty communicating a clear thought in a concise, grammatically correct sentence (yes, even worse than the run-on sentence you are reading now!), rude, demanding people who act like we owe them something, who think we’re going to just up and give them the job of their dreams because they insist on it loudly… and more, lots and lots more.

Please don’t misunderstand – this isn’t everybody! We have LOTS of great applicants and great associates who work with us and make us look good to our clients. They ARE our business – without them we would be nothing.

But there is a trend developing, and we see it every day. Blame it on the internet, the decline of morality, or the end of the Mayan calendar, but the fact is, our society is losing its ability to interact with each other, face to face, with decorum, civility, and respect. And it’s more than just our foundering economy that pays the price.