In the past week, we have been bombarded with media images of Serena Williams, Joe Wilson and Kanye West and lets see what do they all have in common? As my dearly departed Granny would say, they are all lacking home training in other words they seemed to have forgotten their manners aka they are rude as hell. Now each one has been noted for their individual shortcomings but at the end of the day, guess what? It doesn’t matter,they are rude.
Yet while the internet world and talking heads on cable news networks are all in a tizzy about each of these folks, fact is how many of us are practicing civility in our day-to-day lives? Personally, I generally have to look no further than my own Facebook newsfeed to see acts of rudeness on a regular basis. In the past month, I have noticed the rise of grown folks getting into heated discussions on Facebook with folks they don’t know (the ole friends of friends thing) and frankly its scary. Heated discussions where folks simply cannot agree to disagree and feel the need to set folks straight…maybe there is a reason we used to avoid conversations about religion and politics with folks unless we really knew them…now we feel the need to shove our views down everyone’s throats and make them see the light. Which while yes, its one thing to want to share information but must we be so rude in doing so?
Once upon a time, we were a nation of folks that at least on the surface could come across as civil. Say what we want about Joe Wilson and if you are a regular reader, you already know how I feel about him. Yet maybe on some level his blatant lack of respect for the President comes from the same space that makes us prone to road rage, driving while texting, being snappy with the clerk at the coffee store and so one because as a whole we don’t seem to give a fuck.
It’s funny because in my area, there a place called the Kindness Center, the fellow who started it whom I have had a chance to meet, pretty much makes it his life’s mission to engage in acts of kindness on a regular basis. He goes out and speaks to groups nationwide on the power of kindness. At first glance this concept seems hokey as hell, after all how does kindness pay the bills? Yet after looking at folks this past week, I am starting to think we all need a refresher course in kindness.
Its one thing to speak our personal truth, what we feel deeply at the core of our souls. However for too many of us and I have been guilty of it in the past, speaking my truth is more important than being civil and frankly I think it has to stop. After all speaking truth has caused the entire world to find out at the same time that Caster Semaya is intersexed…did we really all need to know that? It may be a truth but considering this young woman is so young, I cannot imagine that truth being shared with the entire world was necessary.
Maybe it’s because I am getting older, yet I really am not that old, but I cannot help thinking its no coincidence that this rise in rude seems to come at a time when our world has gotten smaller. Thanks to technology we have the ability to connect in so many different ways yet our relationships our really not much deeper, in some ways they are more shallow. We constantly speak our truth, our views and we share it with no regard to others. I was struck by this as I waited in the ER the other day and found myself using Facebook while waiting, true I had nothing else to do since I was alone and waiting but later that night the absurdity of facebooking while in the ER hit me. Did I really need to share? Yes, it was helpful in one respect since a good local friend called and asked if I needed anything but really maybe I could have just called my friends rather than sharing with everyone on my “friends” list.
Now you may be thinking how is that related to the rise in rude behavior? Well maybe not directly, but indirectly, see we focus so much on ourselves, our lives that really it becomes harder to empathize with others when our lives are so self focused. So it becomes a lot easier when those barriers are broke to blurt out things once upon a time we would have only shared with our closest friends, now we share with the whole world.
So, I say lets embrace random acts of kindness and stop this rise of rude behavior. As for Joe, Kanye, and Serena, maybe they need to come to Maine and connect with the Kindness Center.