After reading through some of the post on FetLife I decided to write this week about the way people interact with each other. Perhaps an article that is applicable as much in normal everyday life as it is within the world of the BDSM lifestyle. However it seems that in on-line environments such as social network and dating sites, chat-rooms and places such as Second Life, the kind of protocols for a lack of better word or just common sense mannerism seem to fall by and large by the wayside.
To quickly backtrack for a moment, for those not in the know, fetlife is a social networking site, not entirely unlike Facebook, that caters primarily to the fetish crowd. It allows people to friend people and show people what kind of fetishes they are into. The site is part free, with some features available for paid membership. Fetlife is by no means the only of such website, frankly the web are plenty each overlapping and occasionally seemingly trying to cater to their own niche.
In tonight’s blog I want to explore some thoughts about manners, being polite, even in the face of adversity and rejection and well, the language used;
First of all, to start with manners. There are several quotes, well a lot of quotes that deal with the importance of manners. Amongst my favourites are: “A person’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait“ and of course the age old adage that “Good manners cost nothing“. And truly these are just the tip of the iceberg. So obviously there is, or perhaps there was a time when manners were considered something truly important in a person as well as a show of character.
However, one of the problems is, is that we, as a society, as a whole have become so much more informal. I suppose this development has only accelerated with the creation of social networking in the recent past years and of course sped along with the use of smart-phones that allow us to document and comment on our doing day and night. This creates a familiarity between people that perhaps twenty – thirty years ago did not really exist.
So, are manners really becoming outdated and obsolete? I personally like and desperately want to be believe that this can not and will not be true. But quite often the proof seems to be heading in the opposite direction. How often do we hear ‘what a polite person’, when someone displays what once was common courtesy? Have we, as a society lowered our norms so much that common behaviours of a couple of decades ago now seem to lift us above the herd, so to speak?
Do not get me wrong, I love being treated politely and with manners. I am not even expecting very old style mannerisms from the turn of last century where I expect a gentleman to rise from the table as soon as I am leaving. But still, I do admit I love having a door opened for me when the opportunity arises and I do not see that as diminishing me in any kind of way.
Simple manners, in that way just seem the best. Why simple? Because I believe that unless manners are put on, faked if you will it purely defeats the object. Be honest, direct and unconvoluted in your manners and acting and as the saying goes, it will show the world who you are.
Of course hand in hand with manners, goes politeness. One could even go as far as saying that politeness is nothing more than manners vocalised. But it is shocking to see how much bad language has crept into our daily lives and not something I am above, I hasten to say, even though I really wish I did do better in that field at times.
So what caused me writing about all this? As I alluded to in the introduction of my paragraph, having seen people react towards each other on fetlife, both in the positive and the negative way.
In the negative example, someone expressed their interest in a submissive and when that interest was not reciprocated, their responses turned nasty, calling the submissive every name under the sun. In the positive example, another person expressed their interest and when the submissive indicated that they were not interested for whatever reason, the dominant replied kindly and wished her the best in her search. The result a new friendship came to be.
In the former example, we see how a lack of manners, not only creates a huge negative reaction and basically comes down to bullying and trying to make someone feel rotten just on the basis of not being compatible. And these are the kind of people that calls themselves masters and mistresses. It’s sad. It’s wrong.
In the latter example we see, what I would deem to qualify as normal manners and behaviours, but yet by the virtue of being courteous and frankly what in Internet terms only can be described as “Not being a dick“, he seems to redeem himself to a higher standard.
And that, is something that baffles me. Have we really slid down so far the ladder of common sense and common courtesy that what maybe a couple of years back was normal behaviour, is now considered special? And I am not sure what the cause is. Maybe it is a bit of a slippery slope that we are all finding ourselves on.
But think about this. Name calling is never right. Well, not in normal communication with someone. I am sure some of us do like being called names on a regular basis but in that context we are talking about humiliation play and we do that while consenting and assenting with a trusted partner. Not by some nilly-willy stranger on the Internet.
There is one counter thought to all of this. That is that cultural norms and values are by and large a living entity and thus much like language itself. While this is certainly possible, it does not mean we just have to accept this kind of behaviour, just as in the same way we do not have to stand for people using a shoddier version of our language.
So with that in mind, I am urging to think about your behaviour and if you approach someone for something and they do not reaction favourably, just shrug your shoulders, thank them for their time and move on. Let us all work on making the world a little bit better by starting with ourselves.
And while those words sound very lofty, I am all too aware that these words also apply to me. While I often retort unfavourably, I think I mostly try to keep my language neutral at best but I know I also can respond to people while remaining polite but cut them down with words nonetheless. I never claimed after all that I am perfect. We always have something to learn.
And with that;
Stay safe, have fun, be polite,
The observant reader may have noticed that I slightly changed the title than it was when I hit publish on this blog. The reason for this is that I never really addressed respect and might do that into a separate blog at some point. My apologies
 - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe