Quite Frankly

Dear Frankie,

I’m in a class with a student who takes notes on their computer. This particular individual seems to have a lack of awareness as to the excessive volume of their keystrokes. How do I ask my classmate to lower their typing volume without alienating them?


Keyboard Confrontationalist

Dear Confrontationalist,

Quite frankly, tell them! When I saw this question in my submissions box, I assumed someone in one of my classes submitted it to hilariously roast me, so I feel qualified to speak for us chronically loud typists.

We’re already a little bit self-conscious about our loud-ass nails clickety-clacking on our loud-ass laptops, and we’d like to know if we suck at being cordial human beings in a classroom setting, especially because I’m pretty sure everyone whose keystrokes sound like boxes falling down a flight of stairs is already aware of that fact.

That said, when the fervor of a class and terror that everything out of the professor’s mouth might appear in a final paper prompt hits, keyboard courtesy is the first to go. A gentle reminder will most likely lower the volume—if not, maybe this unfortunately irritating quirk is beyond your classmate’s control.

So, how do you remind them? First of all, avoid being passive aggressive. It’s seldom the most effective way to get someone to alter their behavior. Instead, try to use your empathy: How would you feel if someone called out your classroom etiquette as unacceptable? What method of communication do you think would feel most gentle to you?

I suspect that the best answer here is a direct confrontation, most likely after class. Try your best to tailor your approach to what you think they’re most likely to receive, and also try your hardest not to sound like a total fuckwad. If you’re like me, you’ll end up saying “I’m sorry” at least three times in the course of this so-called “confrontation.”

Keep it simple. Say something like, “Hey, [classmate]. That class sure was a doozy! Also, hey, I was wondering if you could type a bit quieter? I have some trouble hearing the professor sometimes.”

Best wishes,

P.S. If they don’t type quietly after that, maybe just work on tuning it out. Or just sit somewhere else.

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