There is this notion around the world as of late: WE lack civility..
We are told by countless social observers that the death of civility has come and gone.. that we are worse off now because of social media and the internet than ever before .. that our rudeness has been peaking and not stopping.
But is any of that true?
Quite honestly, it would appear that the world is less civil than ever before. The headlines of fishwrappers prove that to us daily, right? The talking heads on the soon to be extinct TEE VEE set bloviate until their red-faced sweaty necks can’t take anymore .. And online? Oh online. Where comment threads on news articles feature insults and anonymous hateful tirades from one person to the next.. Basements across America!! Alive with keyboard bullies hiding behind screens.
So it would then appear that civility, is dead, right?
Not so fast, muchacho..
There may be a number of factors at play … The first, and foremost point: The NET is an open forum of things that already existed in real life. It is a continuation of what people act like, just in a net version. Before online criminals were found and prosecuted (easier with the NET now don’t forget) there was still crime. Cyber crime has made identity theft and human trafficking simplier – but it has also given officials a better avenue to catch it. Yes, I know, there is a dark net… Whole other story.
I would argue that civility was never alive.
I would venture to say that if we were truly civil people throughout history, very civil things would have happened.
Women were oppressed. Large portions of society were enslaved.. and even up until the latter half of the 20th century, people who were free from bondage were still being hung and tortured in towns across America. Civil for some .. very uncivil for others.
Sometimes civility is not needed.
There are fans of Donald Trump who like his for a brashness that has not been seen in American politics in generations. Some equate him to Teddy Roosevelt. Others may say he is Eugene McCarthy with worse hair. Either way, his lack of civility caught on enough to be recognized and now, in fact, his insults have become sport. His Twitter is followed by millions of people anxiously awaiting his next insult and who he will choose to hear his wrath. And for all of those who say they take the high road, if THEIR candidate fought back against Trump in typical Trump style, they would be applauded for taking the stand. After all, how do you deal with someone who lacks civility? Join them.
Around the time of then Al Qaida beheadings being uplaoded and broadcast to the world online (long before ISIS), we were hit with relentless footage. The snooze media didn’t show the most revulting aspects. For that, you were able to just trek online. The information age suddenly turned gruesome and disgusting… footage of various hostages deaths made its way around the net in 2004 and beyond. Nick Berg was the first and most famous, but there were certainly many more after him. Along with that, the news that the American government approved what some term torture made its way to front pages… And then the perverbial excrement hit the fan when we found out soldiers were systmatically invovled with sexual and mental torture of Guantameno detainees. Around the same time, the horror movie SAW franchise became popular and other torture porn flicks made their way onto the cinema.. the first being HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES by Rob Zombie .. The 2000s have featured a cultural array of uncivil media.. Obviously, we would be told, a sign that we are uncivil.
Hold on a minute…
Those alive in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, may recall a video set that made its way around the world in the underground called FACES OF DEATH. The most famous scene probably is one where a group of wealthy elites slowly torture a monkey and eat its brain. But included with the series were other horrid and tragic featurettes that should go unspoken about on this forum. The 1960s and 70s also featured a series of films with depravity. Torture was in then. The TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE may have been mostly bloodless, but the idea of torture and uncivil behavior was included.
Congress can’t get along now. But in the past would have fist fights.
There have even been presidents—presidents who are currently on legal tender!!—that killed others in duals.
There have been labor unions that used violence to carve a better path to the future.. some of them, like the Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania, were hung without due justice and killed without true reason.
If you want to talk uncivil, imagine a world where a “Civil” (really an oxymoron) War is taking place and brother is murdering brother in battlefields across the Eastern seaboard of the United States…
Imagine a system of torture devised to convince you to be a Christian. Or even the most Christian person of all, Jesus himself, being tortured by Roman guards and forced to die on a cross. Even if you don’t buy into Jesus, you can at least acknowledge that the very essence of punishment for years has been horribly uncivil.
Yes, I know the argument. The internet makes it easy to be anonymous. That is true. 4Chan and others have perfected the rapid speed of the net to get their social ways.
But more and more people online are using their real names on sign ups for forums. Even Facebook commenting leaves it all ‘out there.’
Oh selfies, too.. that makes us uncivil, right?
Look back in history… people loved when cameras were invented and, while it may have taken 18 minutes to take a photo (no wonder people looked so miserable) people still clearly enjoyed having their photos taken for posterity.
Every new generation growing up will judge their parents for the sins they commit. But then they’ll judge the new generation that comes after them just as much as they judged their elders. Judging .. judging… judging.. No solutions are rendered, but instead criticisms are hurled. Nothing changes.
Nothing is civil.
And quite frankly. Nothing ever was.