Can’t we ALL just get along??? The rise of incivility



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    • Thanks for the advice – I try to live by it – but “mea culpa” I do seem to switch into Mr Hyde (Or was it Jekyll) when I travel – mostly at boarding and disembark time – is there any hope for me?

    • Great post Maria – couldn’t agree more, sort of sad when you think about it and especially when you experience it.

      Have to share a book that immediately comes to mind written by my dear friend John Sweeney of the Brave New Workshop. It is called – “Return to Civility” and is all about the little things we can do to be more civil!

      Every little bit makes a difference!

    • I’ve been in some challenging professional environments most of my life. I’ve seen amazingly talented people have full on meltdowns, slap actors and engage in other outrageous behavior. Somewhere along the line, the double standard for ‘on-set’ behavior began to creep in, were because someone is exceptionally talented they become the exception to the golden rule.

      Old time producers we have a saying “don’t take it personally, its just production”, and I often counter that with a saying of my own, “even the best projects have difficult people, just make sure you’re not one of them.” How we are treated by others is their problem, how we respond to that treatment and our reaction/response is the only thing we have to keep us sane and healthy.

    • Part of the challenge is that each of us has our own internal definition of what constitutes incivility. Even the research paper you cite doesn’t define incivility, yet comes up with statistics of how 86% of people believe they’re a “victim” of incivility…with the majority of those claiming the instances were while driving or shopping.

      No kidding.

      I am suspect of the research methodology used in the report.

      ” The second wave of Civility in America was conducted by KRC Research in late May 2011 using an online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults.”

      How were these people selected? Was it random? Most survey companies indicate whether or not respondents were randomly selected. Did people refer others to the survey? If so, then selection bias might come into play, where people who believe they’ve been ‘victims’ of uncivil behavior contact others who were likewise “victimized”.

      I am not saying that uncivil behavior doesn’t exist, or that it’s not as bad as claimed…I don’t know. I just view reports like these…without standard definitions or truly random survey administration…with a suspicious eye.

      Aside from the unknown nature of the survey administration, the big issue I see is the definition. What I consider uncivil might not be to a friend of mine, and might be abhorrent to another friend. Since the definition of this behavior is a moving target, trying to nail down a definition is very difficult, because rude behavior to one person isn’t rude behavior to another.

      We can all speculate on the causes, but it will take more than a thousand respondents to nail down why any increase in incivility is occurring.

      As for politics, it has ALWAYS been uncivil (at least in the U.S.). If you really want to see “rude” behavior, go back to political campaigns of the early years of our Republic. You will be shocked at how tame we are in comparison.

    • Experience leads me to suspect that what has become the commonality of easy travel and of easy migration from the lands of one cultural tradition to another are at least among the root causes of what passes for, or triggers, today’s ‘incivility’. Too many of earth’s peoples now have caught trains and ships and aeroplanes to jump regions, countries, continents, and even hemispheres, to insert themselves and to try to establish themselves — and the mores of their birth-lands, their birth-cultures and the styles and expectations of their birth-cultures — into regions, countries, continents, and even hemispheres which have quite, quite different, often millennia-old, community cultures, styles and expectations of their own.

      I have a gentle, very caring and very loving Scots son who has married a very lovely, supremely well-educated and talented young Arab girl. I think they truly love each other out of their minds. Twenty-first Century travel took him so easily to her north African country and, after marriage, they jointly and easily migrated to a third, quite-different country. It was what so many of their friends had done before them.

      Now, a handful of years on, every now and then they have quite unnecessary, sad, bad spats with each other. They will survive (I so much hope). But Ian can get truly impatient and downright angrily frustrated with Caliana because she will accept (and then only on mega-sufferance) very little of the help which, by upbringing, he wants to give her around their home, because that was the way he was brought up by his mother and me. And it is exactly this which makes Caliana very uptight. “The home”, in her Arab culture, inalienably is women’s business, Big Full-Stop, even if the women … like her … have very good degrees. Men stay completely out of it. She once asked her father to call Ian out of the kitchen because he was trying to help her prepare lunch for 14 people … not because he wasn’t doing anything helpful. But because her visiting aunts and female cousins were “watching with great disapproval”. Caliana felt so ashamed. But it definitely was not her place to tell her husband to get out of any room, kitchen or not. That had to be a matter for her father.

      And yet they both find some aspects of the culture of the lovely country in which they have chosen to live, and the berhaviour of its very civilised ‘native’ peoples, to be definitely disagreeable and outrageous and impossible to understand … “how can they”…”how could they”… “surely they don’t — surely not the women”.

      Looking at that piece of YouTube video with which Maria Botta starts her blog, I wonder how many different nationals of how many different cultures, from the north and south hemispheres, were in that heaving crowd, manhandling each other aggressively, not necessarily because they intentionally were being “uncivil”, but simply because each was acting in accordance with his or her own ‘ignorant’ birth-land rules and despite the desperate conflicts to which that was giving rise in that crowd.

      Sad, really. Beyond hope? Very likely not. Within the lifetimes of many of us we have seen great in-roads made into the desperate blight of racialism. We have seen the totally aggressive doctrinaire head-to-head between the West and the East wither and fold. The UN is doing better and surviving better than the League of Nations managed. And there is much more blending like it.

      Very likely our children’s children, or their children, will see a totally new strain of multi-cultural “civility” take root across the planet. But the question then has to be: how will that sit with the expectations of any visiting Martians? Oh my!

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