That Lady Has A Biiiig Belly

If you’re a parent, this is a familiar moment. In the elevator, sixteen years ago, no mistaking it was heard by the “lady” in question. Children make observations. Out loud. Sometimes, really loud. I have a friend who used to call these moments “beyond embarrassing.” True, but these are also necessary, so we can teach our children about courtesy, manners, and develop their filters.

Lady Victoria Marjorie Harriet Manners (1883–1...

Lady Victoria Marjorie Harriet Manners (1883–1946), wife of Charles Paget, 6th Marquess of Anglesey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am no Miss Manners, nor do I long for the days of yesteryear when everyone filtered everything and a mention of indigestion caused a nervous titter among those seated at the dinner table. But basic courtesy, stopping to think about what how a comment might be received before letting it pass your lips–or fingers, I’m all for it.

I’m pretty sure each generation tweaks what they consider appropriate in polite company. Ok. I’m a product of my generation; I love jeans, casual conversations, political debates, no holds barred comics, and colorful language.  I’m also pretty sure I could raise my blood pressure and feel myself turn bright red if I began to catalogue all the times I’ve put my foot in my mouth. I don’t see these things as the antithesis to courtesy and civility.

But Houston, I do believe we, as a generation, have a problem.

rocket crash

rocket crash (Photo credit: shellorz)

There seems to be a collective loss of our filter. Keyboard warriors are running amok on our internet forums, Facebook, and the comment section of every cyberboard I visit.

The internet has become a huge part of how we connect and communicate with each other.  As I’ve said previously, I love the internet, the ways it has opened my mind and my world, the friends it has brought me. I think it’s made me a more thoughtful person. Maybe because I’m a writer, but the need to think about how each comment will be read and interpreted has been front and center in my mind from the very first forum I participated in. Am I always successful at making myself understood, and avoiding bruised feelings? No, but I try, and I’m aware. Emoticons are helpful, but they don’t take the place of real life facial expressions, body language, and tonal inflections.

Yesterday, I was following a political discussion on Facebook. We all know those can get acrimonious. But this discussion turned a bit frightening. A not so vague  threat was made.  This is an extreme example, but not uncommon enough, either. In this day and age, predatory behavior  feels more threatening than ever, because the magical internets can make someone three thousand miles away uncomfortably close, and bring them to your door with a few clicks. Not just figuratively, but literally, because it’s all to easy for someone with malicious intentions to find out where you live,work, etc. Without hesitation, this conversation, and this person, raised the hairs on my neck more than the the guy I saw growling to himself as he systematically rooted through the garbage bags when I was walking the beasts last night.

Google, and you’ll find countless quotes on civility, manners, basic courtesies, and the importance of these to a successful society. My question is this; am I just old, noting a societal shift into more casual behaviors and speech patterns becoming acceptable, thinking this represents more than it does? Or are we truly losing our filter, losing our ability to care about someone else’s feelings more than our own need to project our opinions and thoughts?

Chicken Little (2005 film)

Chicken Little (2005 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

16 comments

  1. As I posted to someone else recently… I joined FB just weeks after the last presidential election. This wasn’t intentional but it was, as I am seeing now, remarkably good timing. I am seeing things about people that I could really live without- things I DON’T think many of these people would say if they were in the same room together vs simply communicating via keyboard.

    It’s just an example of course of this filter of which you speak. I have been guilty of saying things I’d never say in real life as well, but it is something I try to be aware of. I know this is away from the tack you were takings but another thing it made me think of- It’s an evolving thing and I think it’s an etiquette kids should also be taught. People say that kids today are growing up with really limited communication skills, given so much social time is in the form of screen time vs real time with people. I can see this becoming an issue if much of this screen time becomes a far more extreme form of communication than what they’d ever use in real life.

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    1. I stand by my statement of being happy to know more about who people are, and what they’re about. It’s a matter of *how* things are being said, and sometimes blatant disrespect.

      I think kids are still learning communication skills, if anything, they’re expanded, your point is well taken, how quickly and easily it seems to slip from expanded to extreme.

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      1. That is generally what I meant. I don’t mind knowing where people stand along party lines, who is really, really passionate… but I’ve seen some ugliness that has gotten way too personal and even cost some friendships, and it’s made me sad.

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    1. Absolutely, Kendall. 🙂 Just let me know, so I can post links here and on my FB page .

      Also, I just read this past week’s Well Written Wednesday (ok, I confess, it was Thursday when I read it)–loved it 🙂

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  2. Funny that I read this _after_ making my post on Facebook this morning, being dropped one friend (albeit not someone I really knew at all), and then dropping another myself. We are losing our ability to remember that there is a real-life person on the other side of the screen we’re staring at, and forgetting that words can do harm.

    I use colorful language, and sometimes gestures, on a regular basis in my real life, but I am very aware of who’s around when I do. I try and bring that same awareness into my online communications, and even though I’m now agnostic, was raised with, and still believe in ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’, and ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’. Am I always successful? I think I do alright most of the time. I have just decided that I don’t need toxic people and attitudes in my sphere of influence anymore.

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  3. (((hugs))) k, I’m sorry you’re feeling so much of the crud that comes of this. The golden rule shouldn’t be limited to religious beliefs, it should be something we all practice, because we’re all “in this” together. ❤

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