‘Accept’ or ‘Ignore’?

Letter writing has become a quaint memory of the personal past that we once lived in. Its passing leaves a record of the times and the people. Philip Stanhope (1694-1773), the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, perhaps more famously remembered as Lord Chesterfield chronicled over three hundred letters to his son. In a letter sent shortly after he had resigned the seals of the position of Secretary of State, recuperating in Bath, he sent a letter dated 9th March 1748 with the following extract:

Having mentioned laughter, I must particularly warn you against it: and I could heartily wish that you may often be seen to smile, but never heard to laugh while you live. Frequent and loud laughter is the characteristic of folly and in manners: it is the manner in which the mob express their silly joy at silly things: and they call it being merry. In my mind, there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible laughter. True wit, or sense, never yet made anybody laugh; they are above it: They please the mind, and give a cheerfulness to the countenance. But it is low buffoonery, or silly accidents that always excite laughter; and that is what people of sense and breeding should show themselves above. A man’s going to sit down in the supposition that he has a chair behind him, and falling down upon his breech for want of one, sets a whole company a laughing, when all the wit in the world would not do it; a plain proof, in my mind, how low and unbecoming a thing laughter is: not to mention the disagreeable noise it makes, and the shocking distortion of the face that it occasions.

Oh, how things have changed, and changed so completely from what was even possible to conceive. This weekend I was sent an invitation via LinkedIn. The choice was simple. It was between ‘Accept’ and ‘Ignore’. There was no option for an honourable ‘Sorry’. Contempt is below disdain and to ignore is probably somewhere between the two. However this is the choice given and this business model surely reflects what people want and how they behave. Communication is changing fast, our values and regard of others are changing with it.

4 thoughts on “‘Accept’ or ‘Ignore’?

  1. Rhys,

    I must be slow today as I have missed the point of this article. Is there a connection to be made with Lord Chesterfield’s arrogance and the Linkedin invitation?
    To ignore is to suggest that the offer is to trivial to consider or beyond your status to consider. Which is it, because they have different connotations as to the recipients character?

    • Thanks Vic.
      Come to think of it I see your point of how they appear disconnected. Maybe they should be, I’m not sure. I wanted to use Chesterfield’s letter to show how people and manners (i.e. small chores which we accept for the benefit of others) have changed. The reason I needed to show we have changed was to try and amplify recent changes due to new communications driven by new technologies. Of course, the change I was demonstrating was how in some forms of communication, ‘just ignoring’ is almost considered acceptable.

      I liked the way you summarised ‘ignore’. In addition to this, if something is worthy of being ignored, then this does imply that a frame of reference is needed since I guess it’s relative. What one may not ignore, others would.

  2. Rhys,

    I have just been going through a complete re development of our portal. Me the older generation, my son from generation X, another from inbetween and the developer who is 26 years old are the key advisors on the design and functionality.
    I’m taking the view that every button on our site should be clear as to what to experience if the button was clicked; the young ones take the view that internet users are aware standard cliches and will know what lies behing the click button.

    I would prefer not to make the assumption that everyone knows internet lingo, particularly as our site is directed towards the higher net worth user. We should therefore “dumb down” our communication and not assume. Similar to the “ignore” icon in your what does it mean? “Ignore for now”, “NO”, “I will get back to you later”, “remind me later” or “sorry I didn’t mean to bother you”.

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