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Staying In Touch Too Much

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

Did you see that article in the New York Times about how college professors are having trouble getting their work done because they get so much E-mail from students?

E-mail has changed everything--walls are coming down. There is a new familiarity between students and teachers, the media and its readers and viewers, business and its customers, government and its citizens.

That's good news for the most part but not for all parts. Student E-mailers have become so brash they no longer have qualms about ripping into a teacher's methods to justify bad grades. Or, as the Times told it, using a bad hangover as an excuse for missing class.

Which makes me wonder: Are we staying in touch TOO much? Have cell phones and E-mail become the crutches we never needed until we had them? Has the new familiarity given way to rudeness and stupidity?

Worse, is our new ability to communicate with almost everyone and to do it instantly causing us to lose our ability to reflect, to think before we speak?

Why would even a freshman believe getting drunk was an excuse for missing class? Or that you'd get a better grade by roasting the one who hands out the grades?

Venting may be good for mental health but does not always equate with logic.

Maybe we should all turn off our phones and the Blackberries for a second and think about this: When Benjamin Franklin was in Europe negotiating terms to end our revolutionary war, six weeks would sometimes pass before he got instructions from home.

Yet he worked out a pretty good deal. Of course he spent a lot of time practicing what seems a lost art--thinking.

E-mail Face the Nation.

By Bob Schieffer

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