I was born and raised in the Show-Me State of Missouri so no one understands better than me the public’s desire for visual stimulation. Even as a student in the 80s at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I recall the perplexed feeling of holding my newly-purchased textbooks in my hands when, as any Missouri native knows, a textbook with words really serves no purpose. After all, the professor has a blackboard; he/she should SHOW ME what they want me to learn. Right?
Apparently, I am not alone in my desire to be “shown” information as YouTube apparently owns the visual-media planet now. According to WillVideoForFood.com, “every minute that passes in real time, 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.”
A listener to my recent commentary on Public Radio’s Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal asked me for my opinion, as the Creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org, as to the single largest factor contributing to the decline in professional courtesy. I provided a simple, one-word answer: “technology.” Albeit a safe answer, but one that’s somewhat difficult to dispute considering the lack of compassionate, human interaction and/or emotion that accompanies the average post, tweet, text, or email.
However, not only is technology not going away, it can be absolutely wonderful. Facebook permits me to keep track of my college-aged kids and their shenanigans. Email enables me to easily communicate with my staff members in Virginia and Illinois as well as my nationwide cadre of clients. Texting facilitates last-minute “bring home milk” grocery-store stopping requests. And Twitter makes it possible for me to giggle every time I tell someone I just “tweeted” them. Seriously folks, has the act of communicating ever sounded more adorable?
If it’s true our collective attention spans have become perilously short and our need for visual stimulation absurdly high, then YouTube actually checks off a few positive- communication boxes in the modern world. After all, YouTube provides a “human” element that other electronic media lacks—even if those humans are often engaged in acts I personally would want to keep under wraps.
And though I am quick to point out the downside of impersonal electronic contact, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the World Wide Web serves as the primary messenger for my professional courtesy message. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
However, as I am a Southern boy at heart, I prefer: my mama didn’t raise no fool.
The basic tenant of my professional-courtesy initiative, RediscoverCourtesy.org, is simply to make people think before opening their mouths, ignoring a phone message, “responding to all” (gasp!) and/or “tweeting.” I’d also like to believe professional courtesy can be addressed using equal parts candor and humor – with a little entertainment tossed into the mix. And oh how we Americans love to be entertained. We almost demand it, don’t we?
So yes—RediscoverCourtesy.org has taken on YouTube. And though I certainly can’t claim to be the next educational giant on the airwaves, a little show called Sesame Street certainly proved that moving pictures can entertain and teach. Let’s hope this benefit isn’t limited to a big yellow bird or an incorrigible green dude in a garbage can.
Humorist, Editorial Writer, Speaker, and Entrepreneur Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of professional-courtesy initiative, RediscoverCourtesy.org, and the “confessional development” chronicle, AttackBunnies.com. His creative communications agency, MindZoo, is dedicated to the development of highly targeted and innovative written and visual communications for use across today’s wide spectrum of online and offline media.
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