Friday, June 29, 2012

Social Mores: Insights From My Vacation

I have always been intrigued by social mores. They appeal to my sense of order. I suppose if I am being completely honest, I am intrigued by those that don't seem to live by the same social mores as the rest of us. And, thus, begins my story.

The good doctor and I spent a week in Mexico this month. Just the two of us. Two adults able to fully care for themselves. Excellent. Since the little ladies were staying home, we opted for the travel route that was cheaper and took us from San Diego to Salt Lake City to Mexico City to Cancun. Each of the legs of this trip was filled with what I refer to as "blog inspiration". But, in sticking with the issue of social mores, I found myself drawn to the following people who CLEARLY did not conform to the social norms that many of us live by. Part of me was thankful to not have the kids with us asking "why" these things happened, but maybe kids would have forced these people to reconsider?
  • The family of three wearing a variety of tank tops that expressed their messages. I think my personal favorite was the one with a Daschund dog and the phrase, "The Grass Is Greener Under My Weiner". Although, it was a close race with his wife who had the message of, "Cougars Do It Better..."
  • The family with a school aged child playing a game on their iPad at full volume.
  • The woman sitting in the row behind me on one leg of our journey who starting yelling "F*@k" at me because my seat when leaned back infringed on her space.
  • The mother who spoke to her baby in a full volume voice explaining every single noise, movement, etc. throughout the flight.
  • The multiple people that chose to take photos with their iPad. Honestly, made me stare each and every time.
So, let's focus in on my friend with the foul mouth. In fairness, she may have felt like this...
However, if she were using her noggin, she would have realized that my seat was exactly as crowded as hers. At what appeared to be about 50 years old, I would have expected more. Instead of kicking the seat and screaming, perhaps some problem solving may have helped her situation. About 40 minutes and three outbursts and confrontations into the 3 hour flight, the good doctor had reached the end of his patience. I think it was the distraction of my body being moved by her kicking the seat more than the profanity - you will have to ask him. He stands his 6'3'' body up in his seat and turns around to address this woman. He uses a calm tone and asks her if she might be happier finding a different seat. He also requests that she stop kicking the seat. He sits back down and smiles at me with a smile that says, "that should have taken care of it." Then, the wailing begins. "IIIIIII caaaaaaan't mooooooove." Over and over again. Next thing I know, there is a flight attendant next to me. She says, "the woman behind you would like me to tell you that she is crowded." I asked her what she was asking me to do, and she smirked with the response, "nothing, I am just telling you as she requested." I asked the flight attendant, with her calm voice and little red beret, to see if she could find this woman somewhere to sit that would make her happier. Done. Problem resolved in about 30 seconds. With dignity and within social customs.

So, what does this mean for you? As fraternity and sorority members do we solve problems within the bounds of social mores? Are you the person kicking the seat and screaming "F*@k" or are you seeking solutions? When you first attempt to fix or better your situation doesn't work, do you continue on? Or, do you sit still and start wailing? Here at USD, we are blessed to have students that are bright. Not just smart in the classroom, but emotionally intelligent. Let's use that emotional intelligence to be mindful of our actions, how we impact others, how others see us and react to us.

Even if you liked the tank top example... Be people that realize that there is a difference in what makes you laugh and what you'd actually wear around. Social mores, people. Social mores. Or, as I saw it described - the fine line between right and rude.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Faster and Greater Capacity

My partner is reading this (horrendous) book on technology. I am not a fan, largely because it is convicting in how much time I spend “connected” rather than with those in front of me. But, that is a different story for a different day. Recently, the following gem from said book was shared with me – as technology is advertised, it is always with the promise to be faster and have greater capacity than what we are currently using.

Interesting. We all live in a world where going faster and doing more is expected. As consumers we demand it. But, what if, I don’t want to go faster? What if I am already working at capacity? What does my life (aside from my smart phone) look like if I am constantly trying to do more, hold more, be more? I graduated from college in 1994. We were right on the cusp of email and the internet. (insert Al Gore quip here!) I made my way through 21 years of my life with a paper calendar and a phone that plugged into a wall. Students will often guffaw at this reality. But, it is true. We met together to solve problems. Those meetings were set up by phone calls. We didn’t move as fast – the capacity to find a quick answer by using Google or searching a website didn’t exist. I had to rely on problem solving, best guesses in decision making and taking risks in a way that is different than how I operate now. As an undergraduate student leader, graduate student and new professional, I felt that I had great capacity. But, in no way was I able to communicate with the speed and frequency that I do now. In the month of May, I sent Liberty 76 emails. In February, 93. The woman works 30 feet from me. Please. Or, as she may say, Stop.

One of my childhood memories involves my Mom stopping by her to see her friends or my grandparents after she finished teaching for the day. There was never a call before showing up at the door – we would just go. No reason, just a moment to “visit” and catch up. I think if a friend showed up at my door without ‘warning’, I would assume something tragic had happened to them. Seriously. Nothing in my world happens without some sort of email or text to set it up. I mean, goodness, even the daughter’s orthodontist emails me to confirm appointments.

As we enter into summer, I suppose I am asking – do we need to be faster and have greater capacity? Or, is it a time the commit to stop, read, think, pray. To consider those we are connected to and call them? Or, visit them? I am leaving the country for 10 days without access to phone or email. We did it last summer for 2 weeks. It took a couple of days to adjust, but it was magnificent. My challenge to you – find a way to move slower and not take on more this season.