COLUMN: Library and general etiquette 101

Is common sense just a relative term for not being an ass to others?

One person’s ideas about rudeness may not be the same as another’s, but there is usually a lot we can all agree on.

Talking on your cellphone in the restroom? Eating like a horse in a quiet study room atmosphere? Listening to your music so loud that the rest of us have our ears and minds assaulted by your choice in music? Loud, obnoxious and long cell phone conversations that no one else wants to hear? Not holding the door for the people behind you? Hey President Ross, that was me behind you.

These things are generally considered bad form, as Captain Hook would say, and most of us know we’re being a jerk when we do them, right? I’m not so sure.

When a guy has a long conversation on his phone, completely remorseless, and talked about how drunk he got, or how much of a ‘dick’ his friend is, I start to wonder if he minds everyone hearing his personal conversation. Remember when librarians used to 'Shhh!' you? Where are those tough librarians now? We need to be the library police.

Overhearing a phone conversation is more than irritating; it is distracting to our brains, according to research done by Cornell University in 2010. The reason they are so annoying is because you can only hear half of what’s said, and this makes your brain work harder and leads to distraction. So wait — you were trying to do your chemistry homework? No, you are actually listening to that guy talk about his party plans for the weekend.

When I asked the woman next to me what the guy’s deal was, she said she agreed, but she wasn’t going to say anything and dirty looks don’t accomplish anything. Ever. They are just too oblivious.

So every time we look like a jerk because we ask someone to keep it down — remember, it was them who intruded into the quiet public bubble in the first place. Why should we feel weird or bad about asking someone to get a clue?

Maybe this is just the new culture we have created, one of complacency, that requires everyone to blare their headphones so we don't hear the people eating like a horse, or the other people’s headphones, or the utter jerks on their cell phones. For those not checking to see if they need to hold the door for you, well you're on your own with them.

I just want to add, a serious kudos to those people who do grasp common courtesy.


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