FIGHTING FAIR ON THE INTERNET: PART 2 | THE LOSS OF HUMAN CONNECTION AND MANNERS
MY MOMMA ALWAYS SAID: Growing up in my household was less than desirable. I saw all kinds of icky mean things that would have sent most children, according to statistics, into the justice system or result in some other “negative” situations. I had first hand experience on what it is like to deal with the aftermath of violence…mental and physical. Oh yes, I could share stories for days…and I did in some on topic college classes to the awe of many. Yes, times were tough and I ask for no sympathy…I’m way stronger because of it and I think I can relate to others better as a result. This is not to say that I didn’t struggle along the way. The truth is, it took me a long time to get to a point where I was able to handle my own emotions and words in difficult situations but I like to think I do pretty well now as an adult. Not perfect, because no one is, but certainly better at being more self aware. So what does all of this have to do with “manners” and “fighting fair on the internet?” Well, in my household, in spite of the serious chaos and desire to act up, my momma always taught me that saying mean and hurtful things was not nice and if you didn’t have something nice to say you shouldn’t say it at all – regardless of the medium. Of course, back then, there was no internet. I suspect many of us had parental figures who taught a similar lessons. Sure, I was allowed to disagree, after all she had a very independent little girl on her hands who was all about speaking her mind (God bless my mother), but if I was going to disagree I had to have real reasoning and I had to be able to articulate it respectfully. Name calling and being mean just to be mean was not acceptable. Being a bully was not allowed.
RESPECTFUL DEBATES…A LOST ART: This week alone I found myself explaining to friends that I perceive the characteristics of good manners and respect to have been lost by society. Nearly three times this week I have found myself saying “Ah, respect…it’s a lost art.” Of course I don’t believe this about all people. I have met some incredible people who could debate respectfully…especially in the legal field. One of the great things about the analytic mind is that it allows you to see things from different angles. Oh yes, there is something to be said for those who can articulate and argue positions without resorting to calling each other a “flaming dodo head” just because they see something differently or dislike a particular situation. Unfortunately, however, I don’t see these traits as the norm anymore. Where in the heck did the human connection go? Apparently out the window followed immediately by manners and respect!
DISENGAGEMENT: In an on point discussion this week I attributed this dwindling of respect and manners to technology and our loss of ability to be human; I mean really human, as in actually interacting with humans. Think about it…most of our communications now are through some method of technology; and most don’t even involve actually speaking. Instead of telling someone, to their face, that they are upset…they send a text message with broken language, odd use of capitalization and punctuation, and an abundance of emoticons or you get blasted on some form of social media or internet site. We have become so reliant on technology that we have almost forgotten how to communicate and often feel really uncomfortable if and when we actually have to talk to someone else. Do people even call in an order for pizza anymore? We have all become so disengaged from other humans…
THE HABIT OF TECHNOLOGY: Next time you are out in public, look around at how many people are “together” but are totally or partially disengaged because they are too busy staring at a screen. Maybe this even happens in your own home? Until I started raising a fuss about it, and only because I became more self aware of the trap that I was falling into myself, it would be a regular and normal occurrence for myself and my significant other to be sitting on the sofa together, with the television on, but each also be totally engaged in something else online – be it reading an article or playing a game on our phones, tablets or laptops. It’s a BAD habit! It’s like one form of stimuli has become not enough…and we need more constant interaction in order to feel comfortable. But we aren’t the only ones. According to studies done by the Pew Research Center, “some 21% of Americans now report that they go online “almost constantly” and “67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.” With all of this being online and/or constantly checking devices for messages, alerts or calls, it’s no wonder we, as a society, are no longer really connecting with people the way we used to.
WHEN HUMANS DO CONNECT: Interestingly on point, I recently stumbled across the Liberators International organization who posted a video on their Facebook page showing an eye contact with strangers experiment posing the question “Where has the human connection gone?” You are encouraged to link to and watch the short video for yourself, however, the idea was to have two total strangers sit and look into one another’s eyes for an entire minute. The results…smiles, tears and/or hugs…from strangers. So very amazing…and the facial expressions…so very telling and profound.
TIME TO MEND THE BROKEN: The more we “connect” through technology and become akin to an individual island with a population of one the less we REALLY connect in a way where real emotion is involved. The less legitimate human connection we have, the greater the opportunity for an IDGAF (I don’t give a F!) attitude to develop and the more opportunity we create for words and thoughts (mean ones) to flow without consideration for any consequences; for ourselves and for others. Indeed, with the loss of our ability to really connect and communicate, we have also seemingly managed to lose the concept of manners and respect. It’s time to figure out how to gain those characteristics back…one step at a time.
EXPERIMENT: Try unplugging from technology (no cheating) during a time that you would normally “check in.” This could be at home around family, at dinner with friends, or even just some time by yourself. See how it makes you feel and what things around you you notice and report back. I’d love to hear your feedback.