Civility Lost

Malia pictureMy good friend Sheryl has a post up from an article out of USA Today. It’s a top 25 list of things that have seemingly “disappeared” over the past twenty-five years. I chuckled at things like typwriters, Betamax, vinyl records, New Coke, etc., but when I got to #15 my amusement was abatted:

15 Civility

It can be rough out there — whether on TV, radio, the Web or at sporting arenas. Today’s discourse has plenty of “dis,” and it can be pretty “coarse,” too. And whatever happened to thank-you notes? We could go on. (emphasis mine)

It’s a pretty sad thing that an otherwise tongue-in-cheek list also points out a very hard truth. And with the dust-up at Nashville is Talking last week and the continuing fallout from it all, it seems to me that USA Today is not far off the mark with announcing that civility has indeed vanished.

Edited to add: In the comments, Jeanne M. & Slartibartfast have responded regarding being polite. I think there’s a difference between being polite and being civil. Being polite is easy, it’s teachable, and in many situations it’s expected. But to be civil is to respond to others with grace and dignity, to live out “the golden rule” and treat others as you would want to be treated, to have respect for humanity and the opinions and beliefs of others and not be reduced to name-calling and mud-slinging. We can all “be polite” but it’s civility that I see less and less of these days…especially here on the Internet.

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8 Comments

Filed under by Malia, Rant

8 responses to “Civility Lost

  1. Yes, and I find it all to be very disconcerting.

  2. Jeanne M.

    Hope your sunburn has eased up. Being a light-skinned person myself, I know how easily a sunburn can sneak up on me.

    Civility has to be taught in the home, and when we as a family are not polite to each other, there is no pattern to follow when out in the world. Saying “thank you” and “please” doesn’t take a lot of effort, just thought, but can really make home life more pleasant.

    As an aside, I have noticed that lots of husbands no longer open the car door for their wives, but this can show the children how to be courteous and respectful. But wives, remember to say “thank you.” It really does “pay off.” ;-)

  3. Few parents I know really stress civility anymore. For us, it’s number two on the priority list, behind passing along our Christian values.

    We always joke that our kids may gow up to be serial killers, but they’ll be polite serial killers.

  4. Jeanne M.

    I guess I never thought there was a difference between civility and politeness. Have to think about that some more. I guess I have thought civility can be hypocritical, put-on, and that politeness shows respect and a love for the other person.

  5. DB

    I think it boils down to how you interact with people you don’t necessarily know, respect and love….strangers, internet bloggers, etc. Maybe put another way, can you disagree without being angry and taking things personally, leaving the disagreement instead to the issue at hand rather than the people involved?

  6. Malia

    Jeanne,
    Hmmm…I guess we’re defining the terms differently. And maybe it would help if you understood a bit about where I coming from. My community of blogger friends and I were involved in an ugly on-line confrontation last week. The situation turned out to the the proverbial “straw” in long line of incidences, coincidences, situations, etc that led to our friend, Brittney, resigning her position at Nashville is Talking. In all the commenting and posting that went on surrounding the confrontation there was a lot of basic disrespect for the opinions and beliefs of others. Horrible, nasty things were said about my friend (and other friends) by people who wouldn’t “know her (them) from Adam” on the street. And because on the Internet you can seemingly hide behind a wall of “annonymity”, people often feel protected enough from real backlash that they let loose and spew out all their pent-up rage and ugliness inside and direct it toward someone who just expressed a different opinion or belief than theirs. Not only was there a lot of impoliteness going on there was a gross lack of civility. The really sad thing to see was how so many couldn’t even treat others with basic human respect. A respect that should come not because of any religious belief but because we are all human and occupy the same space.

    I was saying to DB yesterday, it would not surprise me in the least to find out that some of the “trolls” we are having to deal with at Nashville is Talking say “please” & “thank you” and hold doors for moms with babies and the elderly, etc. Being polite in social situations is easy and often expected. And being polite is an element of civility but there’s more to being civil than just being polite. It seems that on the Internet and on the radio (think Don Imus) and even on television, when one is not dealing with a real audience but a perceived one, many elements of “civility” are lost and even deemed unnecessary.

    I’m really not arguing here, just trying to shed some light on my point of view. My mantra is “agree to disagree” and hopefully I’ve done it respectfully and with civility!

  7. Jeanne Mohundro

    Thank you for the further explanation of civility. I, too, have seen the lack of civility in blogging because of lots of anonymity. That is why I like blogs that require some type of recognition, rather than just “anonymous.” That causes me to be very careful of what I put in my comments. Even with “Anonymous” I always sign my name. Maybe I am setting myself up for the rudeness you have written about.

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