It has been said that we, in the United States, have lost our sense of Civility. Verbiage has become more nasty, music has become more raw, TV has become more explicit, and many of our politicians no longer treat each other with respect. What do you think? Consider the following discussion before you answer: http://wgbhnews.org/post/snark-sarcasm-and-ill-will-why-weve-stopped-being-civil
This is a timely question and a much-needed conversation with small and large audiences.
Ultimately, I tend to think that people haven't changed all that much. I am not so naive as to think that politicians always treated each other with civility in years gone by. After all, Thomas Jefferson once referred to John Adams as a hermaphrodite, and George Washington himself noted that "In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude. Every man will speak as he thinks ... or more properly, without thinking.” I have been around long enough to remember the insults slung at Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush (both of them), and Clinton.
I don't think that people have grown innately more uncivil over time. I just think that their voices are louder because technology has given everyone a fairly even platform to speak from. It used to take some work (and talent) to have one's political views published; now anyone with a smart phone or laptop can access many places to vent and rage about politics, the national culture, or the local school district.
In daily life, I don't feel the same sense of uncivil behavior that exists online. It is rare that someone treats me with blatant disrespect, and most of the time I can attribute it to something personal the individual is dealing with. People hold doors for me. People smile at me in passing. People engage with me in pleasant and humorous conversations. And I make a conscious effort to do the same—to see people and engage with them on a very human level.
Yet if all I listened to were the streams of rants on social media or news programming, I would be led to believe that the nation is entirely uncivil. Yes, the language is more raw. (So I don't listen to it.) Yes, the news can be angry. (So I choose programming very selectively and greatly limit my consumption.) Yes, people can be rude.
But most people are still quite civil and respectful toward society in general.
So I would argue that it's time for this quiet, kind, and respectful voice to be a little louder. Like the article mentions, meet the world with Oprah levels of respect, even when met with uncivil words and actions.
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