Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Civility and Etiquette are on their way out


Let's be serious though, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the internet in general have created an underbelly of people who need their mouths washed out with soap and then sent to the Emily Post school for social graces.
Intelligent debate seems to have fallen to the wayside on most matters.
Don't agree with an adoption article in the NY Times? Then comment in such a nasty personal way that you end up fighting with people whom you have never met and most likely never will.
Hate the health care reform bills? Make sure you throw out an -ism or two in your comments, regardless if you understand the inherent differences between Socialism, Communism, Libertarianism, etc.
YouTube has some of the most foul exchanges I have ever seen, especially under music videos. A friend recently told me he was watching a Turkish musician online and then when he scrolled down to the comments, there was a full blown potty mouth battle going on between two people, one from Turkey, the other Greece. Sure there is history there between the ethnic groups, but come on now, there is a time and a place for everything.
What has happened to us as people? Can't we voice and read opposing views without getting nasty? Have we truly lost our skills in engaging in constructive dialogue? What do we gain by insulting someones choices or opinions? If I am reading something that begins to irritate me, I click away. Why should I get all worked up over something that I have no control over? Sure, I like to stay informed, but I also like being able to edit myself if need be.
People seem to thoroughly enjoy being judgmental and insulting online. Most folks wouldn't say the majority of stuff they spew online, but the comfort of anonymity allows them to be incredibly vile.
Facebook brings on a whole new world of over sharing like nothing we've ever seen. I cannot believe the stuff people will post. We have lost our filters and it is downright ugly at times. Privacy seems to be a rare thing these days, BUT we all still control how much we allow out. Even some celebrities in this world are more under the radar than the average person on Facebook. Do you need to tell people how long you will be on vacation for? What school your kid goes to? How long its been since you had sex? Saw your spouse? Are bored with your marriage? Bored with kids? Cheating? Eating? On one hand I am happy to know what most of my friends are up to and on the other hand, I wish they would email me directly or keep me in the dark.
I admit I have thought of canceling my Facebook account, simply because I am tired of all the inane postings and rants. I also sick and tired of being invited to play Mafia Wars, answer a survey or get in a pillow fight. I don't care that my friends play online, but I do not have the time so I usually ignore the requests and trudge on.
Maybe it is time for all of us to take a sabbatical from email, Facebook, etc. Sit in the glow of the sun instead of the computer screen. Can any of us go one day without checking any of it? That would be one hell of a challenge for most of us as our computers are our life lines. We get info, read, take courses and just surf and play online. I'd like to think our withdrawal symptoms would not be so acute. We can function without any of it, we choose not to. Since this is the case, we need to have blogger/commenter etiquette courses immediately. We need to interact as if we were sitting next to one another on a bus, not holed up in the dark where no one can see or hear you. Choose what you post wisely, once you put it in writing it is there forever and it's not private, no matter how you specified your privacy settings.


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