Cheap laughs and the loss of courtesy

The internet and more specifically social media are literally changing the way we interact with one another. Information that used to take days, if not weeks to make the rounds can now be disseminated in a matter of hours. Thoughts and ways of being that used to be considered private are now routinely discussed with any and all. There are strangers who I have never met, yet I know more about their peccadilloes than I know of some of my oldest friends.  In some ways, it is the best of times and the worst of times. In moments of crisis, social media is a thing of beauty. Yet too many times in our excitement of embracing these new ways of being, we forget that common courtesy and respect never go out of style.

In many ways it is easy to forget when we blog, Facebook, tweet, and so on that at the end of the day we are real people dealing with other real people. When we forget that we are dealing with fellow travelers on this journey called life, it becomes easy to other and de-humanize one another. Most of us don’t start off that way but there have been times when I have been caught up in the moment and made a flippant comment not aware that my words are being read by someone else and that those words hold power. That a quick and dirty laugh is being made at the expense of someone else.

A few weeks ago, a blogger I admire deeply wrote a blog post that many took offense with. In the end I believe she spoke her truth, yet many were bothered by her post which is their right. However rather than deal with her as a fellow human, many resulted to slandering her character and making assumptions and attacks on her. People were so caught up in the moment that rather than take a step back to breathe and attempt respectful discourse, shallow and simple attacks became the rule. Behaviors like this are more and more common online it seems. Personally when I read anything online that riles me up, I take it as sign that I need to step back, unplug and plug into the people right next to me.

Today I came across a blog post from a blogger that I am not overly familiar with and while I understand that the post was written in a style that the blogger is known for, it broke my heart. Once upon a time as a society we knew instinctively that using children for cheap laughs and conversational fodder was simply not acceptable. That taking pictures of children that we have no connection to and posting them on our blogs or Instagram accounts even with their faces blacked out is simply not acceptable. To judge a child that we don’t know speaks to a certain level of depravity within ourselves.

In the course of our daily lives we encounter and see many things, some good and some bad. As someone who has spent years working with people in need, pretty much every day in my professional life brings an eyebrow raising moment. There have been many times I have wanted to crack wise online about a situation but I don’t. For starters, it is unprofessional. More importantly, what is the point? What do I get out of turning someone else into a punch line or talking point?  Nothing but a temporary buzz and if I need that buzz so much so that I will harm another, it is a sign that I am not healthy.

I am all for  sharing, but there is a time and a place and sometimes, some things are simply not meant for public consumption on a large scale.

3 thoughts on “Cheap laughs and the loss of courtesy”

  1. I totally and completely agree. I have become more ware of my reactions to certain things. Like when I see a post on Facebook talking about a way a person is dressed what I used to think was funny now I just shake my head and wonder how funny it would be of it were me.

  2. On the one hand, it’s not like I started off polite, but it definitely went somewhere that’s left me scratching my head. Are there bigger problems in the world? Yes. Could I have been more eloquent? Of course. Did my point get lost because I used D-bag instead of breaking down why I am very uncomfortable with Disney essentially owning a large amount of “voices” on the Web and why those voices would never, ever bite the hand that literally feeds them? Yes. To me the power differential was crystal clear, yet the vast majority of commenters (which is not necessarily a majority opinion) could not see what sexism looks like.

    And I’m not even going to go there about a made up “spoof” as the inspiration.

    But all of it is neither here nor there. The overall point was ultimately lost because people were nit-picking about details that do not matter and I could have done better, but I didn’t because I had absolutely no idea that post would become what it did and if I HAD known I would have agonized over every word and still caused a shit show. The only “safe” way to write is to not write anything at all and I don’t want to do that.

    But the idea that one guy needed an army of women to protect him is quite laughable and still very infuriating to me. And quite douchey.

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