Tardiness--like murderous robotic cowboys and bed bugs in our moon mansions--is something earlier generations might have hoped technology would eliminate by 2010. As usual, this proved only half true: people still run late, but they now possess the ability--via gizmos and products--to convey this lateness to you, the person who bothered to show up on time. But don't mistake this recent trend for thoughtfulness or common courtesy, advises The Wall Street Journal. It's actually the first step in a process of societal decline, culminating in the reopening of that Soylent Green factory. Explains writer Elizabeth Bernstein:
Thanks to cellphones, BlackBerrys and other gadgets, too many of us have become blasé about being late. We have so many ways to relay a message that we're going to be tardy that we no longer feel guilty about it.
And lateness is contagious. Once one person is tardy, others feel they can be late as well. It becomes beneficial to be the last one in a group to show up, because your wait will be the shortest. ...
Some people were raised in cultures where tardiness is tolerated. Others learned poor time-management skills from their parents.
Far too many of us, though, try to cram too much into the day, leaving no time to get from place to place. And a few people use their tardiness to display power or control. (Think about the people who routinely show up late to meetings at your office. I bet they're not the peons, right?)
Here's the problem: Being late—especially over and over—can leave the other person feeling disrespected.
So, in conclusion, never be late, ever, or The Wall Street Journal will sign you up for The Running Man.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.