May cause irritation: Instead of thoughtless rudeness, try courtesy

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You are annoying.

But it’s OK, because so am I.

We all do things that irritate the people around us. You might be the gal who pushes a full shopping cart up to the express checkout line, or the guy who smells like he took a hit from a cologne-filled water balloon. Maybe you are one of those people who constantly clears your throat, or hums to yourself all day. Maybe you repeat certain phrases a little too often (“boo-yah,” perhaps?).

Maybe you just talk too much, period.

Whatever it is that you and I do to annoy strangers, friends and loved ones, we can be fairly certain our minor annoyances will carry no serious societal repercussions. I say “fairly certain” because annoying the wrong person at the wrong time can result in your untimely death, which is what happened to 43-year-old Chad Oulson on Jan. 13 in Tampa, Fla.

BY NOW MOST people have heard Oulson was shot by a 71-year-old retired police officer during an argument over cell phone texting at a matinee showing of Lone Survivor. And the sentiment of everyone who has chosen to share their opinion with me on this case of movie-theater-texting-gone horribly-wrong can best be summed up by paraphrasing comedian Chris Rock: “I’m not saying I would have killed him. But I understand.”

In other words, this guy did what most of us fantasize about doing when some chowderhead in a darkened theater thinks it’s perfectly fine to illuminate a 10-foot radius so he can LOL and OMG with somebody who, odds are, is a chowderhead as well.

All of the facts in the case have not yet come to light, so it’s premature to jump to conclusions regarding the shooting’s justification, or lack thereof. What is clear is that a disagreement over a mildly discourteous behavior ended in a killing.

It doesn’t have to be this way, folks. If all theatergoers could realize it’s rude to disrupt the show by talking and texting, then the theater experience would be more enjoyable and more people would go to movies. There would be less stress and people would live longer. The theater industry would expand and create more jobs to stimulate the economy. Everybody wins. Nobody gets hurt.

But why stop at movie theaters? Think about how much better place the world would be if we all made a conscious, across-the-board effort to be less annoying humans. There would be peace, harmony and increased life expectancies throughout the land. And the beautiful thing is, it wouldn’t cost anybody a dime.

TO HELP YOU on your quest to irritant-free living, I’ve come up with a handy-dandy list of 10 Things to Start Doing Right Now To Help Save The World®:

• Flush the toilet in public restrooms. Nobody wants to see anything you’ve left behind.

• Keep right except to pass. If you drive the speed limit or slower on a multilane road, stay in the right lane. There are people who want to drive faster and they want to pass you. They can’t easily do this if you are clogging the passing lane.

• Say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate, such as when asking a waitress for a refill or when someone holds a door open for you. It’s also OK to say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am.”

• Keep your fidgeting to yourself. Have trouble sitting still? Not a problem. Tapping your foot on the back of my seat? Big problem.

• Turn your car stereo down. Not everyone shares your taste in music, and they actually might be trying to hear their own stereo instead of yours. Bonus: You’ll look smarter, because most people recognize a person’s intelligence is proportionally inverse to their tolerance for noise.

• Use garbage cans. You pass by waste receptacles several times during a typical day. So why do you insist on tossing your child’s Happy Meal and the contents of your ashtray out the driver’s-side window?

• Lower your voice. You are not E.F. Hutton. Nobody is interested in hearing your private conversation. Trust me, the person on the other end of your cell phone can hear you just fine if you talk in a normal tone.

• Don’t be an Internet troll. If you deliberately try to upset people by posting inflammatory or off-topic comments on Internet forums, you are a coward. But you probably knew that.

• Don’t block aisles. Store aisles are like little highways. You wouldn’t park your car in the middle of a highway, would you?

• Don’t be a line-cutter. When you come upon a group of people who appear to be waiting in a patient and orderly fashion for the delivery of goods or services, it is called a “line.” Your place should be behind the last person.

There you have it – 10 extremely free and easy ways to make the world a better place. I can’t guarantee you that following my 10-point plan will bring you riches or eternal happiness, but I can promise you will be much less likely to get shot.

And, really, isn’t that good enough?

Comments (16) Add comment
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InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/26/14 - 07:58 am
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Excellent article Mr. Cline!

Excellent article Mr. Cline!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/26/14 - 08:07 am
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Editorials Can Also Be Rude

You sound like Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Calm down. I also find it rude that you said, “Don’t be an Internet troll. If you deliberately try to upset people by posting inflammatory or off-topic comments on Internet forums, you are a coward. But you probably knew that.”

I’m reading this newspaper where opinions are varied on the Internet. I always strive to post inflammatory comments that often upset. But keep in mind, what’s inflammatory to you may be appreciated by others as making a valid and strong point. It would be pretty boring if we all just said great to everything. It would be like reporting business news. If you want to be specific and criticize a comment, have at it, but Internet posters are not cowards, at least not the Chronicle ones. Maybe with time you will learn this. Welcome to the Chronicle editorial page.

myfather15
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myfather15 01/26/14 - 09:23 am
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I agree, excellent article

I agree, excellent article and good advice.

I just wanted to add that it was reported that Mr. Oulson and his wife were enjoying a RARE evening out without the children. He was texting the babysitter to check and see how things were going. I completely understand doing this. BUT, he should have walked out of the theatre, into the lobby. Now, does this excuse someone shooting him? Absolutely NOT!! The idiot that shot him needs to spend his remaining days behind bars, or get the needle in his arm to rid us of his pathetic existence!!!

faithson
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faithson 01/26/14 - 10:33 am
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as we forgive those who

as we forgive those who trespass against us...... hummmm food for thought to ANY good Christian.

stuaby
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stuaby 01/26/14 - 10:48 am
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Excellent, Riverman1, excellent.

Hard-hitting comments that inflame, insult, make uncomfortable, etc., are oftentimes what's needed. Some people are in a deep fog and are not going to be led out of it with nicey-nice talk. Dr. Laura, when she was active, understood this.
Anyway, the one about moving over to the right lane is one of my biggest pet peeves. After six miles on the interstate behind one these side-by-side people and I'm wishing I could fire a TOW missile and annihilate the cretin. Even more astounding is that, if, for whatever reason, they lose their wingman, they speed up! What the hell is up with this?
Aside from line-cutting, the other things on the list don't bother me so much.

karradur
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karradur 01/26/14 - 12:29 pm
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...

"The sentiment of everyone who has chosen to share their opinion with me on this case of movie-theater-texting-gone horribly-wrong can best be summed up by paraphrasing comedian Chris Rock: “I’m not saying I would have killed him. But I understand.”"

Here's a dissenting opinion, Mr. Cline: I hope that the Oulson family reads this editorial, because you are sick.

"Don’t be an Internet troll. If you deliberately try to upset people by posting inflammatory or off-topic comments on Internet forums, you are a coward. But you probably knew that."

Actually, you're the coward for mocking the victim of a horrible violent crime and them BLAMING HIM FOR IT.

From an interview with Chad's widow:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wife-slain-movie-theater-patron-life-shattered/...

"Through tears today, Nicole Oulson broke her silence, describing the moment her husband, Chad Oulson, was fatally shot after texting in a Florida movie theater.

"And just to think that in the blink of an eye, my whole world just got shattered into a million pieces," she said during a news conference at her attorney's office. "And now I'm left trying to pick them all up and putting them back together.""

HILARIOUS!

karradur
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karradur 01/26/14 - 12:37 pm
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...

"In other words, this guy did what most of us fantasize about doing when some chowderhead in a darkened theater thinks it’s perfectly fine to illuminate a 10-foot radius so he can LOL and OMG with somebody who, odds are, is a chowderhead as well."

Do you hear that, Chad Oulson's three-year-old daughter? You're a chowderhead, and Daddy deserved to die! LOL!

mrenee2003
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mrenee2003 01/26/14 - 03:07 pm
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Thoughtless

I did not interpret Mr. Cline's comments as an insinuation that Mr. Oulson and his three year old child were chowderheads and it's rather disingenuous to suggest that he did. And several of you have missed the point about "inflammatory" comments. There are trolls that will post things just to get people riled up (make racist or sexist comments, get off topic, ad hominem attacks on people because of their political affiliations, etc.) rather than intelligent discourse (which may, of course, be hard hitting - but I don't see how insulting anyone is helpful). I took Mr. Cline's article to mean that we should all try to be a bit more courteous to each other (perhaps, however, he was a little thoughtless in how he presented himself). I, for one, am trying to be more courteous in my postings and am really taken aback at the viciousness of the responses.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/26/14 - 07:23 pm
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MrRenee

MrRenee, I don't think I was rude in my response to what amounted to a shotgun approach to comments on the internet Cline didn't like. He said nothing about racist or sexist comments which I may have agreed are wrong. His editorial was trite almost to the point of being a cliché. Let's hope he improves. Look at exactly what he said that he knew would be posted on this newspaper that has thousands of internet subscribers.

"Don’t be an Internet troll. If you deliberately try to upset people by posting inflammatory or off-topic comments on Internet forums, you are a coward. But you probably knew that.”

mrenee2003
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mrenee2003 01/26/14 - 08:26 pm
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Riverman1

Here's an article on trolls, the kind to which Mr. Cline was referring: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-internet-is-a-blessing-w...

Since what you do is not trolling, I am confused as to why his comment regarding trolls upset you. Trolls, who hide in their anonymity, are there simply to cause discord and do not engage in intellectual commentary. Yes, I know he didn't say anything about racist or sexist comments. I was trying to provide behavior that is exemplary of trolls.

jimbob
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jimbob 01/26/14 - 08:49 pm
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If the shoe fits wear it!

I would say that "Riverman1" does fit the definition of Troll by hiding behind the Riverman1 name, no photo, and rude comments on everything almost everyone says. And he or she probably won't agree with me either.

corgimom
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corgimom 01/26/14 - 11:24 pm
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I don't agree with you

I don't agree with you either, JimBob.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/27/14 - 04:38 am
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Back At Ya, Jim Bob

JimBob said, "I would say that "Riverman1" does fit the definition of Troll by hiding behind the Riverman1 name, no photo, and rude comments on everything almost everyone says."

Care to give me an example or two of what you consider rude? Maybe we could discuss them instead of you simply saying "rude comments on everything almost everyone says."

You do realize what you are doing is nothing more than an ad hominine attack? Or maybe you don't realize it.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/27/14 - 05:22 am
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I don't think Riverman is an

I don't think Riverman is an internet troll but I fail to see how what Mr. Cline stated was so offensive to you personally (unless you know Mr. Cline and there's more to this than what I've read here in this article). There are people who are trolls on forums, (even on here), that love to post nonsense, just to get a reaction, and although I don't agree totally with his viewpoint on the man who was shot, I think his list of 10 are some good examples of how we ALL can learn to be more courteous.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 01/27/14 - 08:19 am
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jimbob

Evidently jimbob doesn't know who riverman is.....

Of all the posters to jab on here, he would be the LAST one to jab.
hahahah....playing with FIIIIRRREEE!!

Today will be a funny day..I can see that.:)

corgimom
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corgimom 01/29/14 - 10:21 pm
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Hey, on this blog, you need

Hey, on this blog, you need Teflon panties and a Kevlar body suit, but that's what makes it so great!

This is cyber crack for all of us on here.

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