Lately, a lot has been written about being rude. Apparently, we are more rude online than we are in person. As we spend more and more time online, will society reach a tipping point? Is there something we can do to ensure that our children are not being rude?
Since I always like to make my posts personal, let me share my own experience. Last spring, I saw first hand, how rude people could be online. Like many communities, our town faced significant challenges and people were up in arms over the Board of Education’s initial budget. A few parents created a public Facebook group to keep people informed and to help galvanize other parents into action. Unfortunately, a moderator wasn’t assigned to oversee the group. People started using the group to vent their frustrations about the situation and verbally attack each other. Things were written that would NEVER have been said in person.
What was it about technology that removed the filter of humanity [read socially acceptable behavior] and lets people be rude? Dr. Sherry Tucker wrote a fascinating book, “Alone Together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other.” If you can’t tell from the title, the book explores the impact that technology has on our society. I actually read the book and found it fascinating. Dr. Tucker believes that people are rude online because they don’t receive immediate feedback. Let’s face it, when we talk to someone in person, we see the effect of our words. So if we want to have a relationship with someone, we temper our words so they don’t devastate the person that we are talking to. This is an important thing that we need to teach our children. It helps ensure that they are not being rude when they interact socially (in person or virtually.) Dr. Tucker further observes that technology can inflate our self-worth and remove some of our inhibitions. This isn’t a great situation, as an inflated version of self has been correlated with lower self-control. So, is society doomed?
Nah. I’m sure that a similar discussion happened when the telephone was introduced. Technology evolves much faster than we do. So what can we do? Well, perhaps we can talk to our children. Teach them about not being rude. Interact with them in person!
p.s. the irony of posting this on a blog is not lost on me.