The appalling lack of social graces on social media is a topic I have discussed before. But, today I would like to challenge all of you on a larger level. I personally believe good etiquette overall is suffering in our society today. I see and hear rude comments every day coming from a variety of people in a variety of situations.
After blogging for 8 years, I certainly have experienced my share of negative comments. We all get them. If the comment is constructive criticism, I will allow it to stand as part of the conversation and I will be open to what is said. However, if the comment is a personal attack and just plain mean, then I usually delete it in an effort to discourage the one who wrote it and to keep the comments on topic. For some reason, the most hateful comments come through my Facebook page. Usually, they are made by very young individuals…until yesterday, when a woman over 50, who lives in middle America, gave me a comment I would put on the level of a high school bully.
Now, my intention here is NOT to get some of you sweethearts to give me sympathy and tell me in your comments how I don’t deserve it….so many of you have been loyal followers for a long time, and I get encouragement from you every day. My intention is to encourage all of us to stand up for good etiquette, civility, and kindness. Three things we are losing more and more. We need to determine to teach others what these things really mean and call out the bullies when we see them…no matter their age or sex.
I am a strong individual who no longer allows meanness in other people to control how I think about myself. But, as I read the words of this woman, I wondered how her bullying would have been received by a woman not as strong as I. I love to read fashion magazines and I see many styles I do not like or are not my-style, but I do not email the publication and blast them with ugly words about their styling when I don’t like it. So why do some do this on social media. If you do not like what a woman is wearing, simply say nothing and go on with your life. I do these pictures to encourage others to look and feel their best…not because I am seeking a group of clones to walk around looking like me!
What makes a comment go over into bullying? It is when it becomes a personal attack which tears down the individual. I taught high school…I watched kids destroyed by bullies. I know it too well. I also know a bully usually had something going on in their lives which drives them to be mean, but that is no excuse.
I have a new friend in San Antonio. A fabulous woman, Diane Gottsman. She is an etiquette expert and is hired by major institutions to teach business etiquette. She also is a regular on several programs, including The Today Show. I believe she is doing a very important job, because we need our society to return to good etiquette and social graces. We need overt, in-your-face rudeness to go away. These toxic people should learn there is power in kindness and constructive conversations…not in rude behavior.
I think it is part of our job as well…as mothers, grandmothers, community leaders…to teach and instruct the younger generation about social graces (and perhaps remind our generation to remember it). Today, I am featuring Diane’s book and I hope you will consider it to be a great gift for some this holiday season.
And if you are one who tears down others with your words, please, close the computer and walk away before you do real damage. Ask yourself this question, “Why don’t I care about how words can hurt other people?” Think before you type.
Despite it all, Keep Smiling!