I’m growing a little disappointed and frustrated these days with the lack of human kindness and decency. Quite frankly, I’m weary of the endless rants and bemoaning on social media, in conversations, and in the mainstream media in general.
What’s happened over the course of the last ten years as social media has become a part of our lives? Have we forgotten to be kind, bite our tongues if it could hurt someone’s feelings, and seek the pleasures of life rather than carrying around a sack of anger every day?
I’m appalled sometimes at what I witness on social media. Yes, I am on social media. It is part of my life simply because I’m an independent author and it is a means to relay messages about my publications. But the horrible things I see people write to each other and about each other on social media are appalling. And I’m not just talking about teens and twenty-year-olds; I’m also talking about grown ups who should know better and have a sense of decorum. Really, people. What makes some folks think they are an authority on everything? Part of living in society and being a part of society is listening to others—and responding without aggression or malice—to their opinions and beliefs. Everyone is entitled to an opinion; I know this well, as we all have them. But having an opinion does not entitle folks to stampede and override the opinion of others. It simply makes them adult bullies and they do not understand the word civility.
It pains me to see people being chastised for their beliefs. Why must we all agree on everything? This isn’t GROUP THINK. I guess I believed diversity of thought makes for better open-minded discussions. How foolish of me.
The lack of decency goes beyond the political, sphere, however. It reaches so far into our everyday lives, our communities, and our children’s lives that I sometimes wonder if I should leave the house. On my commute to work each day, I count myself lucky that I arrive safely every time. As my son is now driving, I am thankful when he returns from the road in one piece. People are driving at ridiculous and reckless speeds, swerving, texting while driving, cursing, and honking horns because no one is going fast enough for them.
I’ve had enough of that behavior. I’d like to exit my car unharmed.
Years ago, when I let an elderly woman go in front of me in the supermarket line, I was yelled at by a surly woman behind me in line for letting the older woman, who struggled to walk and was hunched over her cart, go in front of me.
Sometimes it astounds me.
Another area of growing concern for me is text messaging, especially as I am raising children who seem to love to text all the time. We all know that lots of things become misconstrued and misinterpreted over texting. If you have something to say to someone, say it over the phone or in person. Fighting or telling someone off over text message is immature and a cop-out, not to mention the fact that lots of messages can be muddled. Recently, someone I went to college with for a bit sent me a horrible text message (on my birthday, by the way); it was ignorant and out of left field. And, he had no idea what’s been happening in my world, so his remarks to me were hurtful and unfounded. Needless to say, my life is way too busy and meaningful to allow that type of a person to be a part of it, no matter how long we’ve been friends (or probably better said, in this case, how long we’ve known each other). But people find a lot of nerve over text message; and often, it makes them look bad. And stupid. And like a big fat bully. And like someone I don’t want to know.
All this to say, it’s my belief that decorum and decency are escaping us little by little, and if we don’t watch out, the problem is going to become so much worse than it already is. I loathe the idea of my children trying to raise their children in an environment that seems to be deteriorating.
Bring back the kind words. Don’t be in such a rush that you give someone the finger (like someone did to my son when he was learning to drive) because he is not moving fast enough for you. Think about how you say things and whether or not it’s appropriate to say them. Remember, when you offer your opinion on politics, you run the risk of alienating about 50% of your friends or acquaintances, as they may not be in line with your thinking. And for God’s sake, when you’re in your fifties (or whatever age), don’t send a text message that showcases your ability to be an unmitigated and misguided ass.
Remember: kindness goes a long way. One kind word can truly make the difference in someone’s day—or life.
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.