Has Social Media Caused the Death of Civility?

Am I alone in noticing a disturbing trend in the manner in which people are communicating these days on social media? Or has it been happening for a while now and I have been slow to notice? It seems that people are forgetting the basic manners they should have learned in early childhood. Are we allowing ourselves to hide behind our keyboards, spewing rudeness disguised as knowledge?

I am referring to recent posts I have seen on Facebook as this is my most used of the social media outlets. Over the past several months I have found that my News Feed has been full of more negative than positive posts. I alleviated part of the problem by unfollowing any political pages, pages where supporters of all parties act like schoolyard bullies when any dare to disagree with their viewpoints. I was still left with daily status updates from friends covering topics ranging from police shootings, domestic abuse policies in the NFL, and how to handle the ISIS crisis to name a few. Here I must admit in favor of full disclosure that I myself posted two updates with my feelings concerning police officers but refusing to discuss specific events. I am not saying that I believe anyone should be censored from posting whatever status update they choose. My issue comes into play in how people are responding to said posts. It is more in the subsequent comments on these posts and the nastiness of them.

Is the idea of having a friends list on Facebook not to have people on your list who are actually friends? Or at the least someone you have some degree of appreciation and respect for? Has friend become a relative definition subject to interpretation? Can we not disagree, dissent, or have a debate without disdain and disrespect? If you are commenting on a thread then you need to remember that you are, allegedly, a friend to this person…or that you are at the least responding to a mutual friend of your friend. I think before people type they should stop and ask themselves, “Is this what I would say if this person was sitting face-to-face with me? Or might I choose my words more carefully?” I’m all for open discussion, but it can be done minus the sanctimony and plain rudeness. Believe me, I am at times more than tempted to jump into the fray. My hands frequently hover over the keyboard, twitching in anticipation of virtually slapping someone into place after they have responded condescendingly to another. I am learning to breathe deeply and walk away for a while. I am learning to instead type a polite response advocating the right to agree politely to disagree.

I’m trying to do my part to start a movement toward a return to kindness in social media interaction. I hope others will join me in remembering that we are discoursing not with machines, laptop-to-laptop or tablet-to-tablet, but that we are having discussions with the people behind the screens.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic, and thank you for listening to what is on my mind this morning!

Visualize a calming place or image before responding to comments or posts may help!

Visualize a calming place or image before responding to comments or posts may help!

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44 thoughts on “Has Social Media Caused the Death of Civility?

  1. I agree, Facebook is terrible for negativity and rudeness. I have stayed off it for a few days and I have to say, I feel a lot happier. I’m Scottish so my newsfeed was filled with negative, bullying posts and comments for weeks regarding the independence referendum. In the end, I had had enough. I’m enjoying my Facebook holiday. WordPress is more interesting anyway:-)

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  2. Recently I read a quote I like “With facebook people forgot those times, when for your words you could receive a punch in your face”. Rude but true – we don’t feel responsible for what we are saying online, and considering that we are spending so much time online – we are degrading. As a society. I don’t enter FB anymore, because if I read another political comment from people who never have been neither in russia nor in ukraine and even – let’s be honest! – have no clue where Ukraine is, I will get a stroke. We are too full of ourselves, way too much

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  3. Your tags read ‘Kindness, Optimism and Social Media’. Not words you’d normally hear in a single sentence. I really like your post.

    I am sure it is not just Facebook, there seems to be something about responding via a keyboard, rather than face to face. I often wonder whether it is the same phenomena as driving, the same people who will hold the door open for you when walking, will cut you up when in a car.

    I remember decades ago seeing a Disney film with a Goofy like character playing Dr Walker, who transformed into Mr Wheeler when he got into a car.

    Thank you though, Kindness, Optimism and Social Media – three of favourite things πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and for sharing a link back to me on your blog- I am appreciative and honored! You are dead on with your comments. I actually refuse to read the comments on the articles on news sites any longer as they are generally 99% vitriol and meant to bait and incite. On the tags, I am optimistic that with a dedicated effort we can bring kindness back into social media…or at least more than currently exists. Thank you again! Karen

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Saturday Share #1 | Yellow El Camino

  5. Great points! I have a few friends on FB that I really do respect but would rather not read their constant rants about whatever political, celebrity, or other craziness. Can’t we all just get along and be happy together? I love seeing posts of triumphs or things going on in their lives. We can’t always be close geographically to everyone we care about so it’s nice to still be able to keep in touch via social media.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I can even understand the need/ desire to vent about whatever is under your skin on a given day- I’d just like to see it done without being offensive or condescending. Usually it is only a small percentage of people contributing to the negative vibe. Thank you for coming by and for sharing your thoughts! πŸ™‚

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  6. Yes, you are so right! People sometimes hide behind social media to say the most idiotic things. I quit FB this summer and only miss it a little. Interesting thing I’ve noticed regarding manners: people are less cranky about lining up and waiting since they can always spend the time on their phones!

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    • I am guilty of being on my phone when I am waiting for an appointment or in line at the store. It is a bad habit I’m trying to break. I’m sure it would be more enjoyable to focus on the people and things around me. You are right, though, it does seem to ease people’s moods! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Karen

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  7. I am all with you on this! Sometimes I just want to disconnect from social media because at times it suffocates me. It’s such a powerful tool in shaping human connections (see Humans of New York), but there are times, people are so consumed with so much negativity and they spread it like wildfire online. The very basic thing, “if you don’t have anything good to say, just keep your mouth shut.” Seems so easy but hard for others, this time calls us to be a Gandhi, “be the change you want to see in the world.” πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree- I will say that it’s been a great place to reconnect with old friends and see what’s happening in their lives. As you noted, I now keep in contact with them through text, phone calls, and visits. I am old-fashioned enough to still enjoy a good heart-to-heart over the phone, or better still over a cup of coffee. Thank you for coming by and for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The online world gained traction and attraction because it offered a level of anonymity. Over time, social media platforms, in striving to be attractive revenue-generating modules, evolved into personalised sounding boards. And I personally think that’s where it all went downhill. The mentality of being anonymous failed to reconcile with how so much more personal and, if you like, real online communication has become. That coupled with an overall lack of courtesy and minding their Ps & Qs which is dishearteningly rampant these days. Ill-mannered families often beget ill-mannered children who, in turn, continue the vicious cycle. But you’re right. There’s change in the wind and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that courtesy will soon be the new black. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, if you haven’t noticed by now πŸ™‚

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    • Well said! I find the worst sort of behavior in the comments sections of news sites and any political posts. I’ve learned to save myself the frustration and steer clear of them. You bring up an interesting point on manners, too. I think we have become unintentionally rude in other areas as well. We barely acknowledge people around us as it would cause us to have to look up from our screens. I know I’ve been guilty of bad phone manners, and I’m working to correct that. Thank you for your insight! πŸ™‚

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      • This is going to sound beyond clichΓ©d but I feel as though I should be the one thanking you for reminding us how common courtesy appears to have flown out the window of late πŸ™‚ p/s a good post begets an honest comment πŸ˜‰ you have a new fan.

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  9. I think it can be stated, the more one uses social media, the less sociable they become. Social media does allow us to connect but also makes it easier for those hiding behind a computer to bully, and spread negativity. As an English graduate, I find it utterly appalling that so many exchanges are filled with acronyms. Most times, I’ve no idea what one is attempting to convey.

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    • Acronyms do abound, and grammar tends to get thrown out the window. I made a New Year’s resolution two years ago to spend less time on social media. As you pointed out, it was feeding my introversion under the guise of being “social”. I was finding reasons to stay home rather than go out to socialize. Luckily I have come to enjoy human interaction, and I find it easier to log off. Thank you for reading and for sharing your viewpoint.

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  10. My thoughts exactly. I open YouTube, watch a video a person has worked really hard on, scroll down only to find the most negative of people squatting in the comments section. ‘You don’t like/agree with something? Learn to eloquently say it instead of cussing and dissing mate!’ Sometimes the arguments are not even related to the video! Most of these people won’t even talk like that face-to-face! Then why do it behind a screen? And yes, somebody needs to come up with a Virtual SlapApp soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I totally agree with this. Not only is it an issue that people say things they wouldn’t say in person. It seems to be an issue that people are becoming less capable of talking to people in person! With social media and texting being so accessible, I feel we are slowly losing both our manners as well as our conversation skills. I think it is wonderful that you are kindly leading by example. Great post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I’ve noticed when people are together they are still checking their phones obsessively…or taking group selfies to post to their various accounts. I am making a point of leaving my phone in my purse. We did survive for years without them! I am happy to report that I just logged in on Facebook and saw several photos of brightly colored flowers. There is a new “thing” going on of posting flowers to combat the negativity. Maybe the tide is turning!

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  12. I agree completely. Only a couple of weeks back I was reading a Facebook post where one of my friends was berating the vicar who undertook their child’s Christening. This person has many friends on Facebook, a lot of whom jumped on the bandwagon. The post turned into a hate campaign against the vicar! Talk like that can severely damaged reputations, even jeopardise peoples lives and careers. Not once did the post say that the couple had spoken directly with the vicar over their concerns. It is indirect bullying.

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    • Facts can be in short supply, can’t they? You are right, it is a form of bullying at times. It’s the type of thing that many people would not do in a one-on-one forum, but they jump right into the fray in a group…sad.

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  13. I post good humoured updates myself much of the time. I don’t like to use Facebook as a Soapbox. I will voice an opinion if it’s warranted, but I realised at a young age that it pays more to listen and to observe rather than to talk.

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      • Why, thank you. Doing my part to make the world a less angry place. As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten much better at creating a ‘drama-free zone’ around myself. The sooner people can dispute things like adults, the better off we’ll be.

        Facebook is fascinating. It’s interesting to see a simple comment about a film one didn’t like make another person devolve into a petulant child.

        I’ve followed you – great stuff here from what I see. Feel free to check out my own site! Working on a new piece right now that I can hopefully have up within the hour (my submission to today’s prompt on ‘The Daily Post.’

        Liked by 1 person

  14. You are so correct with your posting.

    I wrote a post earlier this year talking about the issue of people posting detail information about their daily lives, from the moment they wake up, to the moment, they go to bed, that reads like a memoir.
    The negative comments are a constant hot button issue especially about politics, religions and race.

    Since I have began blogging I do not follow Facebook any more. I rather read the positive posting of the blogs I follow.

    Great posting “Fill Your Own Glass”!

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    • It is a much happier vibe here, no doubt! Thank you for visiting and contributing to the conversation. Enjoy that retirement- my husband is nineteen years into his law enforcement ride, and we are looking forward to the time when we can get out and explore the world!

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  15. I liked Facebook, I still do… I have met cool & really interesting people there and likewise the not too good ones!
    What I do with content that’s unpleasant to me is neglect it… If the writer continues, I simply unfriend!
    I’ll never force anyone to see things my way and I respect anyone who does the same either in my face or behind a keyboard
    !

    I think the world is generally undergoing a degradation in morals, ethics, respect and values …and that’s where we need to take conscious effort to at least influence our world positively!
    Nice post!
    ☺

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    • I am still on Facebook often, and you have the right approach in ignoring the unpleasant people. We do need to make positive changes both on Facebook and out in the world in general- well said! Thank you for visiting and sharing your ideas! πŸ™‚

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  16. Wow. What fun. I come over to thank you for the follow on my blog and I find this! It’s almost a twin idea to a post I did a while back as one of the prompts I did for my club. Am so glad to have found another like-minded person on here who abhors the way social media is killing off social niceties! Loved this post!

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  17. I avoid reading article comments now. I am off Facebook personally; only use it for my blog. It’s either negative comments (or outright sexist / racist) or negative news. I hope that as we adjust to social media over time things will get better – either people will behave better (because backlash is real) or there will be better filters for removing filth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have toyed with the idea of swearing off Facebook provided I can break the addiction. I would like to think you are right, though, and eventually people will behave better. Asking too much? Maybe, but I have hope. Thank you for visiting! Best, Karen πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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