The dictionary tells me that civility is “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.”
My mother taught me, “If you can’t say something nice then say nothing at all.”
At least to their face. 🙂
All day long these concepts are put to the test. To me, civility is a filter that prevents me from saying what I really feel at that moment in time.
All day long I interact with humans who can be some combination of stupid and/or rude. Again, I keep my trap shut.
Sometimes I’m the customer and I’m still subjected to the nonsense. Even though that’s a situation where I could, most of the time I don’t go off. It actually takes quite a bit to push me to the point where I abandon civility. At least in real life.
I guess you could say I have a “civility tipping point.”
The blog, however, is a different story. Because I choose to remain anonymous I can say certain things about certain people in my life secure in the knowledge that they won’t directly suffer at the hands of my scathing opinions.
But what happens if you aren’t civil and are not anonymous?
A high school student in California was suspended by the school system after he called his teacher “fat.” On his Facebook page, the sophomore wrote about his teacher: “fat ass who should stop eating fast food, and is a douchebag.” Cartman himself from South Park couldn’t have said it better.
The student was suspended for one day for “cyberbullying.”
On the other end, a teacher in Pennsylvania was also suspended after she referred to her students as “rude, lazy, disengaged whiners” on her personal blog.
Even a minor political figure in state politics can get involved in the act. A South African singer living in Greece wrote to a state representative in Oregon asking him to oppose legislation that would remove wolves from an endangered species list. The politician had a particularly pithy reply when he said that Greece has become a “haven for morons.”
“Are you kidding? Why do you expect that input from [European Union] residents make any difference at all to me? I’ll be supporting Dr. Whitsett’s bill (he is a VETERINARIAN). By the way, perhaps I should be writing to EU ministers to stop bailing out Greece. Clearly it has become a haven for morons.
Naturally as soon as this became news various people became outraged. Wolf advocates around the world have demanded that the politician apologize.
Just how are we supposed to blend civility and telling the truth? Can they ever be friends?
I spend most of my day thinking bad things about many of the people I come in contact with. But I resist the urge to share that opinion directly with them. When I get home, however, I may feature an anonymous version of them in my blog. But if I wrote with my real name, I wouldn’t do the same thing.
I guess you could say that is my version of civility.
Something may be the truth but that doesn’t mean it is appropriate to say in all circumstances. I’ve know people who don’t know this. They insult you to your face and then, if you dare to become bothered by it, play it off like you are the problem. Like you are too politically correct or touchy-feely or something. I often use a made up character known as Uncle Bob to illustrate this concept.
You invite Uncle Bob over for dinner. After dinner he says, “Damn, your wife cooks like shit, and she’s ugly, too.” When you do what comes natural and get angry, then Uncle Bob plays it off like you’re the one with the problem, usually saying something like, “What’s the matter? Can’t you take a joke?”
I think there are several concepts at work here. They say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When it comes to civility, though, it might be more proper to say, “distance makes the mouth grow bolder.”
Exhibit A is our behavior in cars when we get behind the wheel. In essence we become enclosed in our own little confined spaces, complete with hard exterior shells. Once there, our behavior can markedly change. Someone irritates us? We respond by yelling at the top of our lungs or enthusiastically flipping them the bird. I’ve learned, though, that this can be unwise in a small town. There’s a damn good chance the person will turn out to be your neighbor and then you feel like a dumb ass.
If that same level of irritation occurs face to face, we’re not likely to respond the same way. The distance and the cocoon effect of our vehicles serve to embolden our behavior. The situation provides more direct access to our raw thoughts and feelings.
Exhibit B is the internet, which is just an exponential version of Exhibit A. Flame wars are rampant and people are only too happy to call each other “morons” and such simply because they don’t share the same opinion on some political issue.
The second concept that comes into play, in my opinion, is the immediacy of our new social networking culture. We’re all publishers now and the centers of attention in our own little worlds. It’s all about how many hits we get, how many followers we have, and the quantity of our “friends.” Suddenly we’re under the impression that everything we say is important. So if we’re going to tell the truth and identify someone as a fat moronic douchebag, the world is going to be grateful, right?
How often in this age of me-publishing do we “sleep on it?” In fact, we do the exact opposite. As soon as we have the thought we rush to our computers to share it with the world lest we forget. Going further we take our devices with us just in case we have thoughts while at work, while driving, while sitting on the can, during the act of making love, while watching a movie, or having Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. Know anyone who has tweeted from church?
So, in closing, let me just add this. You’re all a bunch of morans! I’m proud the be the only smart person left, you fat douchebags!
This post was inspired by this link: Didn’t call anyone a moron today? Actually, that’s normal
Well, now I feel bad about posting an angry digression on the chronic fatigue thing. 😦
I already wrote but scheduled a post for tomorrow that was about me getting yelled at on Friday. I just thought it was funny but I guess you could say it was quite confrontational of them!
Never feel bad about that. It’s a good thing! 🙂
Some day civility is coming back right?
I went to school with some Morans.
Who implied civility is coming back? I can’t remember what I wrote.
We all think the guy with that sign is dumb, but maybe he had a feud with the Moran family!
I can’t begin to tell you the long list of names I long to call people, but so far my filter won’t let me!
Sadly, I don’t think civility is coming back. The thin veneer of civilization is wearing off altogether as the economic system becomes increasingly worse….and it’s not going to get better.
The people in Wisconsin are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
This is my lead in for this depressing series of charts. If this doesn’t make you want to call everyone a d-bag who is responsible for our dismal future, I don’t know what will!
“10 Charts That Embody Everything That’s Wrong With The U.S. Economy”
Curse you, filter! That’s one list I’d love to see. 🙂
Good to see you back in action, and making excellent points as always. Woot.
That was a good link. Very interesting graphs. They sort of paint a dismal picture, don’t they?
That sign: Priceless.
It’s an oldie and a goodie.
True story: The guy looks EXACTLY like my former roommate. It may actually be him. I’m still not sure. 🙂
I love going on my EldestDaughter’s Fbook page, and embarassing the poop out of her when she posts statuses about partying, swearing, and various other TMFI subjects. If she doesn’t want her GRANDMOTHER reading it, (who is on FB, and is a friend of hers, by the way) then it really shouldn’t be on her wall.
So I drag out the nicknames, and the embarassing pictures, and TAG her little shiny heiney.
Play nice, don’t run with scissors, and STOP eating the paste. We’re supposed to learn these things in kindergarten… when did it fall out of the curriculum?
Sounds like fun. Just be careful you don’t find yourself unfriended. That’s a cold place to be! 🙂
Being civil takes training and patience. It seems to be in vogue to be ignorant with a short fuse.
Agreed. It’ll probably go the way of the dodo. How many things have we lost? Today my boss and I realized that most youngsters probably don’t know why, on some keyboards, there is a key named “return.” Most of the kids these days have ever used a manual typewriter.
You misspelled “Moron” moran!
Dam it all to hell. So klose, to. Wo iz me. 🙂