Thursday, January 24, 2008

Torpedoes and Mosquitos: A Tale of Fairfax County

Really, I probably can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, but here we go:

In short, a Fairfax County high school senior calls a school administrator’s office to complain about having to go to school when there’s snow on the ground. When he doesn’t get a response within a few hours, he calls the administrator’s publicly listed home number. The administrator’s wife responds via frothful ranting voicemail, which the student posts on Facebook. Instant Internet sensation.

What amazes me is the brittleness and entitlement of both parties involved. The student felt entitled to a snow day, so he took his complaint to the top. When he didn’t get a response within a ridiculously short frame of time (several hours), he tracks down and calls the home number. The wife responded to this small intrusion by going nuclear on the student. Then the student, who is apparently entitled to everyone always being super super nice to him, posted the message on Facebook with the express purpose of humiliating her.

Most media and blog responses are focusing on social etiquette, generation gaps or the reach of technology. But that isn't the real story here. It's that both parties have highly inflated notions of how they should be treated. And both react to the smallest of slights by going nuclear. They’re aiming torpedoes at mosquitos. And I wonder how many people would do the same. Egomania and entitlement are flaws that span all generations, it’s just the execution that differs. I'm sure Og and Grog used to beat each other with sticks over who got the bigger portion of woolly mammoth. Many of us have highly inflated notions of our own value, and that's been a constant throughout human history.

Really, even if you're one in a million, there's a thousand of you in India. No one person is so important that they can demand nothing but perfect treatment. Either party could have halted the insanity train by taking a deep breath, realizing it’s not such a big deal, and going about their day. Sometimes, you just have to let it go, whether you're a snotty-nosed Gen-Yer or an old fuddy-duddy Mrs. Somebody.

P.S. But I really, really hope that kid's parents step up to the plate and ground the heck out of him. Better yet, take away his Internet access and cellphone. If I pulled a stunt like that in high school, my parents would have drop-kicked me into next week.


Kristen S. said...

Parents don't discipline kids anymore. I also have noticed the inappropriate overreacting of just about everyone these days. It always seems like if you have a simple request (oh, say, for example: "could you please turn your music down?") elicits an overly-hostile response. Nobody learns social skills or compromise anymore.

Shannon said...

Kristin, I would argue that we've always been this rude, but as you get older you become more sensitive to rudeness. So it seems like kids today are total brats, but really, kids haven't changed at all. We have.