Letters to the Editor

Tire Iron vs. Baseball Bat; Trashing SUVs Is Rude? Well Then, We'll Stop Doing It.; Or We Could Just Deport Them to Fresno; Modesto, My Modesto; Say, People Are Still Saying "Meme"?

When I first started reading the article I was pleased to see that Modesto was being showcased as a community that allowed new and exciting bands an affordable place to live and get started. I was, however, disappointed with what I perceived as a rather provincial attitude in reference to Modesto.

If Grandaddy has come up with a good sound, some of the material must have been garnered in the community in which they live. That community is Modesto. They are, for all intents and purposes, a Modesto band.

Many members of my family have lived in Modesto for generations. It is not a "shithole" as the article stated. I just wish that Grandaddy and this article's author would be more sensitive to other communities outside of San Francisco. If Grandaddy hates Modesto so much, maybe they should pack their stuff and take the first bus back to San Francisco. Modesto would be better off without them.
Matt Innes

Say, People Are Still Saying "Meme"?
I just read your "You Could Be Jammin'" article (Bay View, July 5), and I hope I can convince you to reconsider your list of what constitutes impolite cell phone use.

I would agree that ringing phones and loud (or even whispered) conversations are completely inappropriate in a movie theater or symphony hall, and loud cell phone use is unwelcome just about anywhere. I don't feel, however, that a person should be punished or disparaged for carrying on a conversation in a normal tone of voice in a restaurant or public restroom just because one of the parties to the conversation isn't physically present.

People talk to each other in restaurants and restrooms all the time, and they often discuss surprisingly intimate subjects. There's no outcry against talking to the person across the table from you, and no move to censure people who chat with a friend while they're washing up. We've learned to ignore (or at least politely pretend to ignore) these types of conversations. Why should we treat phone conversations any differently? If you're concerned about hearing unwanted details of someone else's life, then cell phones should be a welcome change since you're only getting half the conversation, and there are pauses where you don't hear anything at all.

I think the most reasonable way to judge whether a cell phone user is being rude is to ask yourself if you'd be offended if there were two people talking instead of just one. Using that test, phone calls in theaters or loud conversations are definitely rude, but moderately toned conversations in restaurants, on the street, or even in a public restroom shouldn't be objectionable. Pacing while talking would be out of place in a restaurant, but perfectly natural on the street or in a park.

I understand the "who do they think they are?" attitude, and have shared it in the past. I've since decided, however, that it's a natural but unreasonable reaction to changes in the way our society uses technology. Eventually this sort of backlash will disappear just like the early negative opinions of answering machines did.

I think that the cell-phones-are-rude meme has really taken hold in the media. I'm seeing and hearing attitudes like the one embodied in your article pop up all over the place, and I think that they have often been adopted without much critical thought. I hope that you'll take the time to look a little more deeply at the evolving interface between technology and manners and perhaps decide, as I did, that a less dogmatic and more forgiving position on the subject is appropriate.
Hilary Mark Nelson
Via Internet

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