"Workplace incivility"—people at your job being inconsiderate, rude, or otherwise unpleasant—is on the rise, reports USA Today. An obvious factor is the dismal economy, sure. But could tech be reprogramming us into insufferable office jerks?
The American Psychological Association, which put out the news, defines incivility as "a form of organizational deviance… characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague as to intent to harm." Which is very vague! But if you construe that as general obnoxiousness, however mild, it shouldn't be a surprise that we're becoming more difficult to live (and work) around. A lot of the tech meant to keep us together can just as easily swing the other way.
Technology has compressed communication in the hopes that it'll be lighter, faster, and easier to process. Efficiency has become the highest virtue when it comes to humans talking to other humans. Everything should be condensed. Everything should be immediate. Everything filtered, everything prioritized. Inbox zero.
But despite the asceticism of today's digital chat, there's a deluge of it. Reply all mudslides, floods of IMs, gallons of browser tabs strapped to our backs. We're expected to be constantly connected with precious little, blowing air through a straw.
Maybe it's a contradiction that ultimately pushes us away from each other. Twitter makes us self-absorbed and ignore our loved ones, we need a special program to get the attention of people too plugged in to notice, and the expectations of cooperation and socialization just don't jibe with a tech movement that's paring talking down to virtually nothing. Or at least 140 characters of nothing. It's not a stretch to imagine this making it hard to work with the people around you—and making you resent them. We have to depend on the people we work with, have to partially trust them with our livelihoods, and yet they're farther removed than ever. It's frustrating. It's obstructing.