Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Happened to Politeness?

I am not saying this as an older person looking at the youth of today, because I am just barely out of the youth and some people could make very compelling arguments for why I actually am still part of America's youth. I am not saying this as a stiff and rigid upholder of manners and rules, because everyone and their moms know I'm not. Hell, I've recently developed an inability to control my burping which has led to some less than desirable situations (I believe I may have developed an intolerance to something which I must enjoy eating. I'll have to find out what). I am saying this as someone who is sick of feeling like a victim in situations where I should not be victimized. I am saying this as someone who is sick of the pompous pseudo-intellectuals who hold themselves above everybody else. I am saying this as someone who is sick of being bitched at when I tell people that I am shopping at Wal-Mart and that Target is the store with red shirts and that jeans are not part of a store uniform.

We are not a polite society. I don't know if we ever actually were, but the media sure wants us to think so. In general, though, the media can stuff it. Whatever we were isn't relevant to what we should be, and what we should be is so far removed from what we are that I'm having a difficult time finding any humor in it. And I found the humor in a series of historical slaughterings for a seventh grade History project. I should be able to do this.

There's a plague, and it has to be, of sarcasm, and I really don't like it at all. Sarcasm has purposes, it has places, it has uses and intents. The most common use, that I have encountered, of sarcasm is as a quick way to mock an intellectual opponent and turn them into a joke. 

In the past three or four years I've gotten into a lot of debates and Internet scuffles that I used to never get into. I've gotten into political debates, religious debates, video game debates, you name it. This is due in large part to my age, I'm sure. I never used to get some of the more adult concepts of politics or I wasn't able to see a bigger picture. But now I'm getting a better idea of what the bigger picture looks like, and I've got opinions on how it should be changed, damn it! Now here's the fun part: only once in any of these debates have I been treated with the same politeness with which I entered it. That was today.

You'd think maybe it's because something's wrong with me, and I'm sure there are a few things wrong with me. You'd think maybe I should evaluate my tone, I should evaluate my choice of words, I should evaluate the way I present myself. That's what you'd think, and that's logical, and that's the first place I did start looking. Looking at myself I couldn't see why I created this trail of fire, why people seemed to hate me and disrespect me right from the start. I thought something was much more wrong with me than there really is, and I let this destroy me for the longest time. I let it slash my arms, I let it bleed into my relationship, I let it lock me away from social contact. And for the most part I still let it do this. There are times where I just sit down and think: "Wow, I really hate myself. Everybody else is right".

What I keep forgetting is that they aren't right. And they aren't just doing this to me. It feels so personal because people have learned how to make things feel personal. But the fact is this is how we as a society treat everybody. We have completely lost any concept of respect. You know, crawling around the Internet I came into other debates, not as a participant just a viewer, and I saw the same bullshit time and time again. Somebody says something and four or five somebodies respond, sometimes with an actual point (though often one which doesn't really make sense with what they're responding to), but always, always with the over all message of "Shut the fuck up you fucking retarded idiot".

Only today did I get a response to an idea I suggested (and this is on the topic of Pokémon, of all things) that began with "I don't think that would work..." and then went on to explain why the poster thought my idea wasn't a good one without sarcasm, without belittlement, and without any kind of trash talk at all. Until that point the majority of the responses were full of sarcasm, full of "You're a stupid moron, go away" without having to read too deeply between the lines. It's almost right out on the surface.

This had largely become something I accepted as just part of normal society. I mean, I let it destroy me, I let it wreck me. I let this attitude just fucking bludgeon me over and over and over again and I let it convince me that I was the one doing things wrong, because if all of society is like this and most of society does not hate themselves in response to this, then I must be overreacting because something is wrong with me. That's the wrong to look at it, and that one polite rebuttal reminded me of it.

I don't care that people refute my points. I don't care if people think I'm wrong. I do care that there is a general and great and evil lack of respect and politeness in the way people are interacting with each other. There is no reason to be a jerk. None. Nothing other than to stroke your own ego. This attitude is bullying, this is harassment. This is attitude breeds the kind of situations where sometimes a person can't take it anymore and they kill themselves. And when that happens we as a society complain about how awful and terrible it is that a person feels like they were pushed to do that. We punish the bullies directly responsible for that individual incident, then stop worrying about it. We don't worry about the problem. We don't look in the mirror and ask ourselves: "Who have I bullied today? What did I say that wasn't really called for? Who did I hurt because of the things I said? How badly did I hurt them?"

There needs to be a change in the way we treat each other. We cannot live healthy lives when constantly under attack and constantly attacking each other. It doesn't feel good on either side. Let's stop being so damn inflammatory, stop detaching ourselves from the people we are speaking to, and learn a little respect. Alright?

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