The Decline of Decency

Posted: February 28, 2012 in Social Commentary
Tags: , , ,

I am not quite sure what happened to the age of innocence, but I have a good idea about what is happening to the age of decency.

I have a good idea and I do not care for it at all – not one iota!

With each passing day I seem to despair more and more at the absolute torrent of hateful and abusive vitriol people seem happy to vent at complete and utter strangers.  Whether it be via the medium of social media; an online discussion forum or more alarmingly, towards the person on the other end of the telephone.

Every day seems to bring a new low in a catalogue of lows in the decay of what used to be commonly expected as basic human decency.

I frequently ask myself the question “when did it become acceptable to disagree with someone’s opinion with a bile laden response that makes you catch your breath or makes you wince at the venom injected into the expletive; the offensive insult, the comment designed to do nothing other than hurl as much disgust or disdain in one spiteful and deplorable statement?”

Some responses are nothing more than a single worded response; whichever single word will cause the most shock and pain.

When did it become so shameful?

When did respect and decorum so abjectly fall from grace?

I do not know who to blame and I have to admit that I do not particular have the appetite or energy to start apportioning responsibility to any particular person or group of persons.  All that I am certain of, is that it is a crying shame that so many feel so invulnerable behind the keyboard – so invincible that they would pour forth such hate without any restraint.

It is a shame and it is an indictment on what has and is continuing to become of our society.

Perhaps it was always this way.  Perhaps the electronic age merely opened up the gateway; enabled a medium to reach out across the globe, instead of across the garden fence.

All I know – is that it is a shame.

Shameful.

Something about which we should all be ashamed.

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Comments
  1. I agree with every word. I find that I raise my natural guard before engaging in any encounter with a stranger because my first reaction is to expect a rejection or a backlash or somesuch. I hang on to the notion that if you do good and try to be good – without getting on any high horse here – the chances are you’ll get it back. Having said that, I’m not naive. I know that if you tread around the edge of the swamp your gonna catch something nasty sooner or later.

  2. Coco Rivers says:

    Hi Mark,

    Yes sir, you hit the nail on it’s proverbial head. It is quite sickening and sadly, I’ve noticed more of it since I got on Twitter. It’s one of the few things I don’t like. People truly seem emboldened by anonymity SMH. I wonder, of course, if this was written after Rush Limbaugh’s tirade against Sandra Fluke which is yet another example, writ LARGE.

    I agree with you that it is a public disgrace. People seem to think it’s their right “free speech” and not a big deal. It only speaks to me as you so eloquently put it as “the decline of decency” and a lack of personal accountability. Quiet as its kept, some of the traditional values, need to be upheld not overturned, every generation…

    I am a proponent of calling for responsibility in media but that will do nothing for the citizenry which just seems to delight & sharpen it’s teeth on this stuff. It seems like another iteration of Roman Gladiator days, in a surrealistic, modern way.

    Question: Do you think that media informs the citizenry on the “tone” of public discourse/interaction, vice versa or both?

    • Good question:

      They say you get the government you deserve, but I can’t help but feel you also get the media you cultivate. Whenever I start to wax lyrical about this and that – I find myself apportioning a lot of the current malaise at the door of Endemol (makers of Big Brother).

      Whilst I know it is not their fault, I can’t help but feel that Big Brother catered to the basest of human desires when it came to cult television. Whereas The Real World was innovative and entertaining when it came out, Big Brother (in the UK at least) turned into a beast that did as much as it could to push the envelope on the boundaries a television programme could break.

      We now seem to have more reality shows on the airwaves than quality dramas, documentaries or current affairs programmes – because reality sells and is cheaper to produce. Everyone wants to be famous for nothing and everyone seems to want to know what everyone else is up to. I am not religious in the slightest, but I can’t help but feel Big Brother and its ilk would have fit nicely into the tale of Sodom & Gomorrah.

      The media goes out there to grow circulation; to seize the publication, broadcast and electronic landscape. The public decide whether they want to feast on that or tell said media that their offerings were unpalatable and unfit for consumption. However, our media (UK) recently took an uppercut to the jaw – when News International were forced to close the doors of their Sunday tabloid, because they had been exposed as having done something that went beyond the pale.

      The media, public and every government official who wanted to ensure they were on the ‘right’ side of the debate, turned on them like sharks smelling blood in the water.

      • Coco Rivers says:

        I really do wish I could Tweet or Favorite comments because this is a keeper!

        My thoughts exactly. Not until the public demands more will we get more. I loathe reality shows and they are inundating the airwaves, dumbing down the public and lowering the level of discourse for all the very transparent reasons that you stated. SMH.

        Have a great week, Read a book :)

  3. SomerEmpress says:

    Good morning, Mark! :)

    Looks like civility followed the art of conversation right down the drain. It’s a crying shame because those are our two saving graces if we are to move forward on important issues. In an age where everything happens so instantly, so electronically, empathy is lost, connection is secondary, and vitriol is viral. Folks open their mouth, and pretty much say whatever they want without thought of how it might be received, what they themselves look like, or whether it’s even true for that matter. It’s like the mother who constantly curses or spanks her child. I suppose it’s easier than thinking about what motivates the child, what is going on with the child, or how best to reward and/or punish the child. It requires less.

    Opinions are rendered without adequate research, and messages of hate and ignorance are broadcasted far and wide, in some cases resulting in more than just hurt feelings, but serious violence. I cringe when I hear it, but realize that there’s little that I can do to “control” the output of others; rather, I insist on that “decency” that you speak of in raising my own children, and in my own household. By extension, I have the same expectations of those who write on my FB wall/timeline, comment on my own blog, or engage me in private or public conversation. I think we all play a role in restoring that civility and decency to the freedom of expression.

    • You are right about the element of everything in an instant. No one seems to have the patience nowadays; the patience to pause for thought.

      Thoughts seem to flood out of mouths as if the levee were broken; as if nothing stood in the way to stem the rampaging tide.

  4. I often wonder if it’s just our nature to be this way. It’s still no excuse though.

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