First, I must give credit where credit is due. I asked my Twitter friends what they thought I should write about. Instantaneously, @darleenw, @j2_whittington & @corpwriter4hire mentioned different aspects of politics as it meets Social Media. So, this is what I came up with for you guys especially 🙂
A few days ago, my family was discussing the political realm as it exists today, and we all agreed that it gets worse every election cycle. More and more 3rd parties are getting involved in ad development. More personal attacks that have nothing to do with politics are being made. Neither side is more or less guilty than the other. Things have happened over the last couple of years that seem hard to believe. Slapping, yelling, spitting, cursing – all by people who want to lead our country out of these hard times.
The Bad Manners Epidemic
The more I think about manners and etiquette, the more I see that common courtesy in general seems to be pretty lacking. Our leaders just highlight and underline this deficiency. It stuns me how many people will cut in front of another car, at a pedestrian cross-walk, to get to a parking space first. People almost never turn their brights off when they are right behind you or coming at you. Patience in banks and at stores seems to be at a low ebb.
With all of this going on, is it a surprise that many people don’t have good manners when it comes to Social Media?
If these are symptoms, what is our ailment?
I think a lot of people are trying to approach the cyber-bullying problem by trying to write up new legislation and regulations, but I don’t think that’s going to do the trick. I think we need to figure out where the shadow in the real world comes from first.
Why is it so easy for so many people to be rude? Why can we no longer argue with civility? Why are our leaders spitting on each other and telling each other that they are bad human beings? Maybe it’s about fear. Maybe there’s a greater sense of desperation than we are really accounting for. Maybe people need to feel important and powerful as their savings wastes away.
In a way, Social Media is like a screen capture, ever evolving, of what society is like right now. Right now, the big news in Social Media, along with Justin Bieber, is that people are dying because they are being abused on sites that are supposed to be used for Social Networking. What does that say about our society at large?
The Real Leader
I will say one thing about the current state of politics here in the US. I can’t think of a single person right now whom I feel comfortable with as a leader. Why? All of our leaders and leader wannabes are stooping to disgraceful acts of bullying. Is cattiness and bickering really going to put more money in our pockets? Is slamming stuff around and calling each other names really going to prevent anything from getting worse? I don’t see how it is so. I am waiting for the person who says, “Um, hey guys…our educational standards are faltering, our kids are suffering, people are dying from stuff that is preventable. Can we focus on that?” I don’t see anyone singing that song as of now. Maybe I’m missing it.
Rude is as rude does
In the meantime, is it really surprising that cyber-bullying is becoming a huge problem? If you teach kids that it’s okay to drive 75 miles through a residential area, how will they ever know any better? If you teach kids that it’s okay to make racist jokes on Twitter, or to “out” people of different sexual preferences via YouTube, how will they know better? If our nation’s leaders are bullying each other on national television, is it surprising that everyone thinks they have the green light to bully people online?
Maybe the first step towards ending cyber-bullying is to follow the advice given so aptly by the cult classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. “Be good to each other.” (and party on, dudes!). I nominate all of our political party participants to set that new example.
Somehow, I don’t think Election Day 2010 will bring that revolution. Stay tuned.