When you travel, take a walk, picnic in the park, or hang out at the beach, your actions affect others for better or worse. There are a lot of people who are either oblivious or don’t care that their bad behaviors might make things less pleasant for others in the area. Smoking, phone use, screaming, and air flow are among the worst offenders.
Smoking is one of the bad behaviors that affects your health and the health of those around you. You may need that nicotine hit to keep you going, but if you’re smoking, you are destroying the air quality around you for up to two blocks. You may have never smelled it, but your non-smoking friends and family have. This secondhand smoke is not only unpleasant, but it’s also dangerous for those who have asthma. Worse, it’s carcinogenic for everyone who breathes it. Cigarette smoke is responsible for killing more than 41,000 non-smokers a year in the U.S. according to the American Lung Association and the CDC.
It’s bad enough when you get a phone call, and you can’t hear the other person on the other end. That’s makes you talk more loudly than you might otherwise, and everyone gets to enjoy your side of the conversation. Sometimes, it can’t be helped, but if you’re in a public place, keep it short. No one wants to know about your medical conditions, bowel movements, or how little Suzy did in her school play. If you can’t hear the other person, call them back and get a better connection, so you can talk more softly.
Worse than a phone call is your latest YouTube, video game, music obsession. Remember in the 1980s when people walked around with boom boxes and you could hear their music? No? That’s because it’s mostly a movie creation and inner-city problem. Now, everyone’s playing whatever it is from their phone, and no one else wants to hear it. Noise pollution is pollution. As far as bad behaviors go, this one has an easy fix: use headphones or, better yet, turn the sound off. Even if you’re wearing headphones, turn down the sound. We can still hear the music, only now it sounds tinny and like you’re damaging your own ears while subjecting the rest of us to your personal tastes while still trying to be polite.
Raising Your Voice
People yell at you on your TV. People yell at you on your radio. People yell at you at work. We don’t need anyone yelling at anybody or anything outside of these areas. There’s already enough anger and screaming. Unless you’re actively participating in a protest or on a roller coaster. Keep your voice down. Let us all have some peace and quiet. If you need to yell, bring a pillow and shout your frustrations into that, so we can’t hear you.
At home, you can open all the windows and doors you want. Turn up the heat, turn on the AC, do both at the same time if you want to pay the energy bill. When you go to a café that has sliding glass doors, you don’t have permission to open those doors. They’re closed for a reason. Even if you’re hot, leave it closed. Other people have a different comfort temperature than you, and the café is doing its best to accommodate the most people while saving money on its own energy bill. (Also, did you notice the decorations you crushed when you slid the door open? No. Makes sense because you were only paying attention you and how you feel. When the door has a sign that says, “Use the other door,” leave it shut.
I know courtesy has gone out the window. People are anxious. They are angry, and they aren’t interested in helping someone else have a pleasant time. We all have problems with no one we can blame but ourselves. It’s okay, though, and we can make it better. All we need to do is pay attention to our actions that affect others and stop the bad behaviors that make life harder for everyone including ourselves. The nicer we are, the better all of our lives will be. Being human starts with the connection with other people IRL, and that starts with being courteous and thoughtful.