(I’m pretty much stealing this post from Walt. I didn’t ask him. Is that a breach of civility?)
So the Today show is doing a series called “Is Civility Dead?” Below is the initial segment. Sorry to those outside the US – it’s from Hulu (I couldn’t find it on YouTube). And for those in the US… only available until Sunday.
I totally agree with everything in that segment.
Did incivility exist before the internet and mass media? Absolutely. Now, though, it’s become popular and ubiquitous. As a parent, that makes my job of instilling civility harder.
So what do we do about it?
Again, as a parent, I can control to some degree the amount of time and content I allow my kids to consume from both the internet and mass media. As young kids that’s not much of a problem. As they get older, that will become harder as it becomes less about control and more about instilling wisdom and discernment as they are more able to understand what it is they are seeing and whether it’s appropriate. And then there’s the participation angle – what are their friends seeing and emulating both online and in school? How does that influence my child’s behavior?
And where are the positive examples? Hopefully you have some in your life. Thankfully I have some people in my life whom I can point to as examples of people who always act with civility, even when we disagree. But where are they in mass media? At the moment I can’t think of any. I’m sure there must be a couple. To steal from Simon and Garfunkel, “Where have you gone, Mr. Rogers? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” Mr. Rogers not only served as an example of civility, he directly addressed the issues surrounding it. We’ve got 6 billion channels these days… maybe someone should put up a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood channel. And everyone should be forced to watch at least one episode per day.
Seriously, though… what do you think? Do you agree that as a society we’re less civil than we used to be? If so, what do we do about it?