Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Matter Of Opinion

In addition to flinging my opinions about for free here at the Dept., I've been getting compensated for them for years now from the ever-curious people at Harris Polls, a branch of the Nielsen Family. Every so often, in one of my designated inboxes, an invitation appears for me to participate in one of their polls. I get to click and click and click away on various topics such as gas stations, cat litter, financial institutions, grocery store shelf placement, oil companies, floor sweepers, you name it. The compensation doesn't come directly in the form of cash; I earn reward points that translate into gift cards. I get Amazon cards, which are, to me, the same as cash.

Recently, the Harris Polls released the results of a survey I was not invited to participate in. From March 12-17, over two thousand adults were surveyed regarding annoying behaviors of others in various situations. The full results are here. The behaviors themselves are not surprising. They are the same old tired things that keep annoying everyone. What I find enlightening and amusing are the breakdowns in demographics. As a Baby Boomer, I am positively delighted that the Gen Xers are so tightly wound. They were the ones who blamed every little thing on us and were going to save the universe. The Millennials, who present themselves as so coolly hip and tolerant and laid-back that they might be close to slipping into a coma, aren't all that different from the rest of us.

Let's take a look at just a few of the categories and tease out what I feel is particularly interesting or germane to a discussion regarding gender and age.

LOUD MOBILE PHONE TALKERS VS. CONSTANT CHECKERS
By Generation, Gender, Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."

Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
People who have loud conversations on their mobile phones in public places
65
59
66
67
74
67
63
60
67
People who repeatedly check their mobile phones while having an in-person conversation
35
41
34
33
26
33
37
40
33

I love how the perception of rudeness rises as the age of the person does. Notice, however, that more women than men do not feel that this is as bad as someone ignoring them during an in-person conversation. As I looked at the results, I noticed this common factor. Women seem to rate lower anything that compromises direct communication. Personally, this question would have been tough for me. In the end, I'd have gone with the second one. I find it hideous to be second fiddle. I am there. Put your phone on vibrate, in a perfect world.

ALL CAPS VS. OVERLY TERSE EMAILS
By Generation, Gender, Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."
Base: U.S. Adults
Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Emails written ALL IN CAPS
60
67
59
57
49
62
57
63
58
Overly brief or terse emails
40
33
41
43
51
38
43
37
42

The age breakdown in this is predictable. Millennials hate the all caps email. "Why are you shouting at me? Don't you know anything about Netiquette?" they probably mutter through their clenched teeth while tapping their stylus against their Starbucks cup. Everyone else has moved on to more pressing concerns, down through the ages, and the Matures, who are the Usual Suspects, are still trying to figure out what ALL CAPS means or why it would be an annoyance to anyone. Matures really dislike the overly brief emails which are devoid of explanation, detail, or newsy, helpful items. Millennials totally get the no-frills emails. Who uses email anyway? Can't you just text? Ugh. Men in general are Big Fans. The less you say, the better. But women are bothered more by the bare, spare email. We want more. Be thorough, communicate fully. Tell us everything.  I dislike both of these intensely.  If asked to choose one, I'd rather have all in caps.  At least I'd have what I need to know and be able to avoid more back and forth with a bad communicator.

"REPLY ALL" OVERUSE VS. NO REPLY AT ALL EMAIL
By Generation, Gender, Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."
Base: U.S. Adults
Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
People who overuse "reply all" on emails
51
41
54
54
64
55
48
46
54
People who don't reply to emails
49
59
46
46
36
45
52
54
46

This one is easy for me, because I have zero trouble deleting emails. I learned it from my former colleague Roger. He simply looks at the subject line, then the sender. From there, if you cannot gauge the likelihood of its importance to you, then you are incompetent. We called this "The Pink Tape System." One year, near the end of school, an email appeared in everyone's inbox with the subject line PINK TAPE. The sender was a particularly ditzy special ed. teacher. Roger said that anyone who read that email was an idiot. I miss Roger.  He was good for me.

Anyway, my point--and I do have one--is that I would easily respond "the non-repliers" to this question. It was a toughie for everyone else, though; it almost split evenly half and half. The Millennials don't care about the "reply alls", however; they either don't use email much, or they are so used to collaborative work that they send emails as a group anyway. The Matures really hate it, though. Let me tell you why. Tons of Matures still don't get how email works. So, when they fire off an email to Bessie, and they mention how, at the last Reunion, Norm and Cora looked real fat, they don't realize that Norm and Cora are on the email list, too. And that they hit Reply All instead of Reply. And now Norm and Cora know how fat Eunice thinks they look. And so does every member of the class of 1933. And once again, women are more irked by not hearing from someone than hearing from everyone. That's why women are great communicators, for the most part. We like to keep the channels of communication open and moving. How many men are on your blogroll? Just asking.

I'm including this last one because...well, you'll see.

WORD MISUSE VS. UNSOLICITED EDITING
By Generation, Gender,  Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."
Base: U.S. Adults
Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Misuse of common words (e.g., there/they're/their, its/it's, overuse of "literally")
57
62
54
57
54
54
60
57
57
Unsolicited grammar/wording "editors"
43
38
46
43
46
46
40
43
43
Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

Hey! If everyone hates all of these Language errors, then why do they persist? The Millennials' eyes are rolling permanently to the back of their heads! We Boomers still aren't over it. And, as a Woman, I am about to Lose It.

Basically, people are bugging the Crap out of me. And you. Even when we are Mature, we will still suffer the annoyance of others. The nice thing is, I will be paid in Amazon cards to tell people what I think about it.

In reality, not a whole lot bothers me these days. Most annoyances are petty and short-lived. I can usually think of something that balances them out, or, as a friend of mine always says, "I just play Mozart in my head." In my case, it's usually Rachmaninoff, but you get the idea. If something is bothersome or annoying to you, feel free to get it out of your system in Comments.

14 comments:

The Bug said...

As a person who can't seem to ask a simple question without starting with why the U.S. entered WWII, I appreciate a nice terse email. I often look at my work emails & tell myself to just get to the point dammit! Am I even related to the girl who once got an A+ with a 1 1/2 page paper that was supposed to be a minimum of 5 pages? You know I could go on & on talking about this :)

Ally Bean said...

Delightfiul & informative post. My take on these topics is as follows:

If you are with me in person then you must pay attn to me as we converse. If you don't do this, I will call you out & you won't like it.

Give me a brief, terse email any day. There's too much babble in the world as it is.

I understand how to use Reply All, but as your example of misuse suggests, not all of my peers do. [Case in point, when I discovered that a married friend was having a lesbian affair.]

On the flip side, there is a special place in hell for friends and family who don't respond to a personal email, so I'm with the Millenials with this.

Dislike wrong word usage, but I can go with that one. Have no idea what unsolicited editors is, so I guess I am cool with it.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm thinking an unsolicited editor would be someone who corrects my use of they're when I meant to say there or whatever. That would bug the crap out of me. I mean, in a work document, I HOPE someone would let me know that I had made an error, so I could fix it. But if I make a typo in an email to my friends, I don't want them to fix it.

I do have a friend who says "Me and her" a lot, and also spells "Lose" "Loose", both of which drive me nuts. I said something one time, in case she honestly didn't know better. She doesn't know better, and she doesn't care, so there. We're both Gen Xers, though she's 39 and I'm 48, so there are a few years between us.

phoebes in santa fe said...

Nance, I sent you an email the other day about a very interesting book I had just read and reviewed. It is called "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant" by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. It is about her aging parents and their decline and how she deals with it. It is quite good.

Anyway, if you want to read about it, go to amazon and look it up. My review - 5 star - is under "Jill Meyer",

Nance said...

phoebes--I'm sorry that I didn't get back to you on that. My inbox has been particularly crowded lately, and my real life has been strangely busy.

Just an FYI for future reference: I'm always happy for recommendations for good books to read. As far as me mentioning it in a post or here at the Dept. in some capacity, I'd have to be writing a post in which it would be appropriate. I get a lot of fantastic info from scores of my beloved Readers on all kinds of great things. Maybe I need to start a new sidebar of Tip of the Week or something.

J@jj--Oh, the "loose" for "lose" makes me crazy. Unsolicited editors point out your errors without you asking. I guard against that constantly unless the person is being absolutely pompous and horrid, or if he/she is deliberately sounding off about his/her grammar skills. Then I have to. I just have to. If it is a sign or ad, I don't feel bad. I just do it. Or post it here. LOL.

Ally Bean--You can skip up to my previous response to read what an unsolicited editor is.

I don't mind a chatty email, especially since I have tons of time in my day now. I dislike emails of one sentence, or the dreaded "ok", period, email. While I appreciate brevity, in an email, it can sometimes convey brusqueness and impatience. I really dislike it when it requires more emailing on my part due to a lack of completeness on their part.

And in order not to completely stereotype, I have many Mature friends and relatives who are very tech-savvy. They would never make the mistake of "Reply All". ;-)

Bug--Bless your heart. You would have probably "bled to death" in my class with your writing these days. I would just use my red pen and start a line through all the extraneous stuff, then make an arrow at where you should have started. It always looked worse than the score reflected. Some people just need to warm up, or use their pre-writing as part of their writing.

fauxprof said...

There's a listserve for part time faculty at my university, and I'm not permitted to opt out of it. It's devoted to whining and complaining about how badly we're treated, and many of my umpty-million colleagues use the Reply All feature. Makes for a lot of deleting without reading.

I get my fill of editing on student papers (I'm death on misuse of its and it's), so I feel no need to do any unsolicited editing of emails and posts. I do have to clench my teeth, though, in conversation, when I hear someone say "could have went".

(My bracket is baby boomer headed for mature. It's about time I matured, I guess.)

Nance said...

fauxprof--Ah, the Mandatory Listserv. Definitely a scenario worthy of The Pink Tape System.

I hear "could have went" rather regularly. I mentally correct it while visualizing myself conducting Rachmaninoff. My worst bugaboo right now is in a song lyric. It's not even a grammar error; it's a style error and, for me, a painful lack of creativity that I find jarring. One phrase makes this song so horrid that I have to change the station in my car. Here; see if you feel the same way.

Ortizzle said...

LOUD MOBILE PHONE TALKERS VS. CONSTANT CHECKERS
The loud talkers are obnoxious, but I just pretend they are not there, which is exactly the opposite of what they want. Constant checkers are rude and not on my list of friends if they are adults. If they are still kids, I will let them know that we can have a conversation when they are willing to put the phone away. If they are my students, they get a zero participation grade for the day. And if the behavior persists, I will stop the lecture and stare them down in silence until they realize that I am not cool about it. (By the time the "checker" realizes that I am staring at *them*, they are being stared at by the entire rest of the class as well, lol.)

ALL CAPS VS. OVERLY TERSE EMAILS
Dislike equally. But I realize that the all-caps people are just ignorant about a keyboard. I mean, would they type an essay in all caps? Why would email be any different? I get the overly terse people; it's just their nature. I only really dislike it if it's a student who says something like "My instructor is unfair. Can you help me?" To which my overly terse reply is usually "Could you elaborate on that?"

"REPLY ALL" OVERUSE VS. NO REPLY AT ALL EMAIL
"No reply" is far worse if it's information that I need. Especially from admin people who send out snotty little reminder emails about not complying with *their* information needs, and then when you have a question about it, ignore you until you send the 2nd or 3rd reminder email. Which I do, lol.

WORD MISUSE VS. UNSOLICITED EDITING
Word misuse. Probably because it highlights a person's ignorance, and while I shouldn't think less of them for doing it, I often do.

The generation comparisons are fascinating. We had a guest speaker at a department meeting a while back who gave a talk that contrasted values among the various generations. My biggest gripe about how Boomers are described is that they chalk all of us up to being tech-challenged. I like to remind my students that some of the Boomers are like that, but the rest of them invented the stuff they're using.

fauxprof said...

Yes, those lyrics are gagworthy. I must confess that I am unfamiliar with the song. My tastes run to light classical, old standards and Broadway show tunes. (During a pre-class discussion of music, one of my students, a delightful "out and proud" young man said, "Mrs. A., if you weren't a straight woman, you'd be a gay man.")

Ortizzle said...

P.S. Enjoyed the "clink glass" link to the Karl Rove article. :-) It never fails to amaze me at how certain Republicans will stop at nothing, even blatant lying, to sling sh*t at the Democrats. Instead of muck raking all the time, when will they ever make their own suggestions for what to do instead? As for Karl Rove... he should have been named Richard. So we could call him D*ck.

Gina said...

All right, Gen Xers such as myself are supposed to fix everything but THERE AREN'T ENOUGH OF US! We are sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millenials, and we just don't stand a chance.

Nance said...

Gina--Sigh. You had such hopes, though.

Ortizzle--I keep hoping that they reach the stage wherein they turn on one another and begin eating their young. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

fauxprof--Particularly egregious is the opening command: "Be still my heart 'cause it's freaking out." That is so horrid in so many ways that it defies even my explication.

Ortizzle--You are a saint compared to me. My reply to overly terse emails is sometimes purposely verbose. Just to piss them off.

MsCaroline said...

Loud talkers make me crazy. Especially at places like the gym where one is trapped on the machine next to the talker. It is also difficult for me not to think "Yelling" when I see all caps - even though I am fully aware that the offenders just don't know any better.
I have no problem with anyone editing my work at any time - as long as the criticism is justified. Someone recently corrected me when I told my dog to 'lie down.' It was actually quite refreshing to give a brief lecture on transitive vs. intransitive verbs and some useful tips on how to tell the difference between the verbs 'lay' and 'lie.' I believe my critic left the conversation with some useful new information. It is also possible that he will think twice before offering unsolicited corrections in future.

Nance said...

Ms. C--First of all, I cannot begin to believe anyone would correct you when you give a command to a dog. Period.

Secondly, allow me to be Completely Impressed that you are training your dog with the use of Impeccable Grammar. Even Zydrunas is being trained using the more traditional "lay" command.

Finally, I always feel chastised when reading anything in all caps. Or, at the very least, that whatever is in caps is EXTREMELY EMPHATIC and is being stressed if not loudly, then at least most vehemently.

(As in, STOP GOING TO THE GYM AT ONCE. ALL YOU ARE DOING IS SHAMING ME. There. Like that.)

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