The anti-EDIs social norm: A counterargument

By Anne Collier

They’re more like DEDIs (digitally enabled displays of insensitivity) than EDIs (electronic displays of insensitivity), because the behavior on display is human not electronic. But that’s beside the point. This NPR commentary suggests that EDIs are becoming a social norm. It cites an unscientific survey of 2,000 newsletter subscribers as finding that this insensitive behavior – people checking their phones in the middle of a meal or a conversation – is getting worse.

It just may be getting worse, but that doesn’t mean EDIs are a social norm. It’s every bit as possible that frowning on and even shunning DEDIs or EDIs – a backlash against them – is becoming a social norm (here‘s evidence). Growing incidences of behavior that people find rude and insensitive could just as easily spell growing indignation, anger or – better – anti-DEDI strategies, workarounds and games. When more and more people find something objectionable and more and more people are aware that they do, awareness of the problem grows and people feel social pressure not to be insensitive in that way. So presence – the opposite behavior – becomes the social norm, not the behavior people object to, right? Tell me if you disagree.

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