The world is changing and so is the social etiquette code.

O2 have conjured a new campaign, the #newnormal.  Playing a huge part in the smart phone revolution and contributing to the change of people’s behaviour in recent years, you have to commend them for addressing the social epidemic. Currently the campaign consists of a compilation of interviews, compiled into three videos about the following topics; Love, Indispensable and Manners.  With one of those titled the same as our brand name, we’ll focus on that one.

Old Skool Social

Now, before I go into the content and message of this video, I’ll give you a quick introduction to me as it will add context to my argument (which is very confused by the way) and may help explain my fickle debate.  I was born in 1989 and instantly fell into the generation where smart phones developed before our very eyes.  Mobile phones had been in circulation well before I was born, however not everyone in my school at the age of 11 had one.  Tell an 11 year old in 2016 they couldn’t have a mobile phone, see what happens.

South East London born into a working class family, I lived under a roof where I was taught ‘old skool’ manners.  My parents (the generation who spent their early 20’s as punks) still enforced their parents rules – Who themselves derive from a war time discipline.  Both of these generations interacted with friends by turning up at homes (or most commonly the pub) to guarantee social interaction.  We now have the ability to ‘ask’ people to meet up, or ‘asking where they are’.  The inevitable social interaction by simply turning up is gone.

Generation Clash

This next example is a generation clash we’re probably all too familiar with:  At a family meal, my younger sister has no problem typing on her phone at the dinner table.  My mother cannot stand it and will immediately tell her to put it away, which she will, once she’s completed the text.

The question everyone is asking and a worry to my peers is whether the traditional manners and social interactions will soon disappear.  Like TV dinners, it will become phone dinners and being in the video industry I am quite intrigued to see the direction it takes.  With doctor’s surgeries already implementing Virtual Reality headsets in the waiting room to calm their patients how long until this becomes a household item and humans adapt to eating their food with these on?

The O2 video itself of course focusses on the positive changes in social etiquette, and as you may have noticed, the support of a man in his 50’s (apologies if this is incorrect – unless you are in your 60’s – then you are welcome) who is very impressed by the technology and is attached to his phone as much as a 16 year old.  This could be because, like everyone, he is addicted to the content available or by not having the device as a youth is utterly enthralled by its capabilities.  Remember, this man has lived through ‘real’ social interaction, whilst millennials have not – who many believe have swapped social skills for social media.

Who do we blame?

The video does not address the benefits of socialising away from your phone.  The majority of people featured are from a generation who do not know any better and the older members questioned do not actually mention ‘manners’, for I’m pretty sure if asked they would say that texting or scrolling whilst in company is in fact rude.  Diving straight to the internet to answer a question is deemed acceptable and I agree, however by doing this you lose the thrill of a debate.   There is no room for tangents and thus an in depth conversation is diverted.  I am guilty of it myself.

The O2 website challenges this with questionnaires to see how you react in social situations and how you use your phone in these conflicts.  The calculated result at the end puts you in a category and tells you what kind of phone user you are – All a bit of fun.   In regards to the videos, hearing people’s opinions will never be dull and that’s what the social media as a whole has brought us, all through the medium of a phone.  It’s a shame people care so much, even when sitting in the same room as someone who would happily tell you their life story when given the chance.

I’m already on O2 so it’s not like this campaign has given me the urge to convert, however addressing the change in behaviour and social interactions is something I must applaud, it would’ve been better if the video’s consisted of debate and O2 welcomed the negative effects the internet has had on social interactions.  I see it more of a ploy for people to accept this ‘new normal’ and welcome the new form of social etiquette.

Whatever the weather always mind your manners, they don’t cost a thing.