Right Brought Upsie

Soapbox LogoWe have forgotten civility, manners and courtesy. We have forgotten how to be kind to each other despite differences. We are failing miserably at simple human compassion. I use to think this was a generational thing, you know I was getting older and those who were behind me were doing what every  generation does, rebel. Now though, I believe there is something much more nefarious at work, something much uglier at the heart of this descent into our national obnoxious turn towards the terrible.

With the advent of social media, the instant gratification we receive at disgorging our opinion, thoughts, angst and any other emotion entering our mind we have become driven to place ourselves first in every encounter. We are encouraged to vent, to spew inarticulate nonsense, to attack without caution or consideration. We are applauded when we name call those who disagree with us, who sit on a different side of the ideological aisle from us, whether this be on a single issue or the entire spectrum. We have created a polarization that doesn’t just extend to those we socialize with but those we once called family, demanding we trim branches or even cut down the entire tree.

So what is it creating this phenomenon? Some of what I observe, sitting back and watching.

Social Media Influencer’s – these odd creatures who create entire worlds of their own with ‘followings’ and ‘followers’ who hang on their every act of idiocy. These mostly young women who once upon a time would not be given a minute worth of attention are now multi-millionaires, even billionaires not for the good they do but for their sexual adventurism, their proud flaunting of body transformation, their make-up and hair and Influencefrankly their self-exploitation. Mind you, I am going to give these young women credit where it is due, they tapped into a market, continue to tap into that market and have made themselves extremely wealthy, good for them.

But what does this say about us? We don’t celebrate intellectual success. We don’t celebrate achievement in business, service or even politics. In fact those women who do succeed in these realms we regularly tear down in any way possible. We constantly berate and degrade the women who by their own power climb the ladders of success in the good ole boys clubs, we find fault with them and we have names for them. While on the one hand we publicly encourage young women in their endeavors, we do not reward their achievements.

Trolls – this is the only name we have for those all too often stalkers of social media forums with their attacks that can be ugly and personal. You don’t know ‘Jane or John’, of course you don’t. They are simply members of the group you joined so you could participate in social, political or other debates / conversations of interest to you. It was never your intent to go to war, only to talk to others about the particular subject this group represented itself to be focused on. Suddenly, here comes the Trolls with first internettroll2ambiguous hints and then, when that doesn’t get the rise they needed, the full frontal attacks. There is nothing to stop them, they will go after individuals for their personal stances, they will go after anything and everything without moderation or exception. Suddenly, you feel unsafe, attacked and are exiting.

The strange thing I have observed about the troll phenomenon is how an entire group can be converted from one of discourse, polite debate and friendliness to hostility within a very short period of time. I have watched this within several chat rooms now and been both fascinated and saddened. Where once there was a willingness to have ideological discussion, give and take without ‘screaming’ or personal attack, groups slid into hostile war zones where any person taking a different stance, anyone with a view other than the most rigid would be shamed, name called and bullied until they departed the group. In many cases, these were members who had been participating in discussions for months, sometimes years. Members who brought valuable points of view to discussions and who helped to moderate extreme points of view with reason and good sense. Trolls, helped to pump these extremes, often leading the bullying with ugly attacks and divisive language.

Finally there are the friends of friends who attack from behind the screens of their phones or computers because you dared to take a different view from something your friend posted. Social media is a beast and can destroy friendships and trust. It is all to easy to forget real life happens out here, in the real world, with real consequences for our acts and words. It is all to easy to forget, connected to the words on the screen are real people with real feelings. Civility, manners, courtesy and simple common decency cyber-bullying-1matter, even in the abyss of the internet. If your friend doesn’t stop the attack, you are savaged, gleefully and without let up. From this point on, your friendship is questioned as you no longer trust your friend and certainly will not interact in social media and will not put yourself in a position where you might meet these people in a real life setting.

I have a rule, if I see things getting personal and ugly in something I control I shut it down. I explain, these are my friends / family and I won’t have it; I won’t allow personal attacks. I will block and delete. I have done so before and I am all too happy to do so again. I demand people behave as if they were brought up right, as if they know how to act in public. I don’t believe it is too much to ask that others do the same. The only place I demand the last word? Any place I control, my last word is always, “stop acting like you don’t have good manners”.

Something is truly wrong today. Something is truly ugly. We are failing ourselves and our children. We are celebrating the very worst in human nature, lifting up and reveling in the ugliest parts of our nature; pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

Meanwhile the world is burning and we do not seem interested in putting out the fire.

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Comments

  1. I won’t engage in rude debates with friends on social media. Civility, courtesy and class seems to be lacking in many today by both young and old.

    • I won’t either any more. I am dropping away from friends, family and groups I use to enjoy. It is sad we can no longer have discussions about our differences without descending into name calling, finger pointing and other ugliness though.

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