What’s happened to good manners?
Name calling, health cussing, over-sharing and just “TMI” (too much information) have become the acceptable norms in contemporary society. It appears there is no so-called class distinction, age, race or gender demographic in which this phenomenon does not affect the public discourse. In politics, it is disguised as rejecting the so-called “political correctness” that, it is suggested, causes people to be disingenuous or to hold back from expressing their true thoughts and feelings. In some community circles, these questionable behaviors and ill-mannered responses are embraced as “freedom of speech” and expression. Whatever the excuse or rationale behind it we have become a culture of abrasive, tactless and tasteless people who have forgotten about civil discourse and decorum. We no longer feel impelled to sometimes “hold our tongue” or use non-aggressive strategies to problem solve or negotiate our position. We just shout each other down; we do not know how to employ listening skills because we are too busy preparing to make our argument. And the language that is now used in the public forum is littered with four letter words and denigrating, abusive and demeaning name calling and labeling of the “other.”
Women are routinely called dogs and body parts out loud. The “N” word has become one which I hear on a daily basis just in conversations as I pass by groups of young people on the street or “old heads” hanging out. In expressing opinions, people are allowed to make empirical statements, bold assumptions as if they are FACTS without challenge or pushback by the people responsible for actual journalism and investigative reporting. Something is terribly wrong with our ability to be civil in our disagreements. We can no longer vehemently disagree with someone’s position or politics without resorting to vitriolic and violent hate-speak. The art of the conversation and ability to engage in critical discourse where people’s minds can be changed and opinions challenged has become less and less present within our society today. People no longer possess a basic set of “good” manners or perhaps they are just lacking simple home training? It has gotten increasingly dangerous and the example it sets for the next generation of young people coming up is atrocious, as evidenced by how they respond to their teachers, administrators or any authority figures in school or in public. The example that adults display, the language used and the violence spoken outright and exhibited in both the media and the public square have demonstrated a lack of dignity and a lack of respect one for another. This alarming trend has infected our youth in ways that are increasingly evident as well as in subtle subliminal ways that affect their psyche and are much less obvious.
We must do better. A civil society MUST be able to function in a civil way and right now, we are on the verge of a complete meltdown.