There’s been something that’s been going on lately that I’ve been noticing. And let me tell you, I don’t like it. At all.
Remember when you were a kid, and your mother always admonished you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? It seems that America really ought to have these words emblazoned across every possible surface.
It used to be that two people who had dissenting views might get a bit hot under the collar while discussing those views, and maybe a little shouting would occur. Both parties would holler themselves hoarse, then retire to their respective corners, grumping and griping that the other person could hold such asinine views.
But when did we spiral down into personal attacks every time we disagree with someone?
I was reading an op-ed over at MSNBC.com about how the new commercials for Cheetos are mean-spirited. Apparently they encourage people to practice random acts of meanness on their fellow man. I haven’t actually seen one of these commercials; almost everything we watched is taped to the DVR to allow us to fast-forward through the commercials.
Obviously this is an opinion article. Nowhere is it presented as factual news. And it’s just one woman’s opinion that these commercials are mean-spirited.
I expected the discourse that followed to be along the lines of, “I can see where you think it’s mean-spirited. However, I find them amusing and laugh each time I see one.” That seems like a Very Reasonable response, doesn’t it?
That’s not at all what I saw on this article. There were so many people who began to attack personally the woman who wrote the article. She was accused of being “old” and “out-of-touch” with today’s youth. One commenter wrote that if she doesn’t like the commercials, she should throw out the tv and stick to staring at the walls. Another wrote “GET A LIFE.” Yet another called her a “moron” for not understanding the so-called humor because she was obviously “not part of the target audience.”
And if that weren’t bad enough, the commenters turned on each other. One woman posted that she felt “the end times are near” because of the meanness of our society nowadays, and how that passes for humor. Another person turned on her and wrote, “what does that have to do with stupid Cheetos commercials? The ‘END TIMES’ have been near for loonies like you for about 2000 years… I don’t think some dumba$$ ads for junk food is signalling that we’re any closer to your apocolyptic predictions coming to fruition.” (I left the misspellings intact.)
When did we decide that the proper means of discourse was through personal attacks? Have we sunk that far into self-absorption that we don’t care how badly we make others feel with our words?
This sort of thing is everywhere. Go to YouTube and find the video to your favorite song. Chances are the comments will include someone saying what an awesome song/video it is, and another writing how it’s so stupid and “gay” and whoever likes this song is equally stupid and “gay.”
Go to Woot.com and read the forum for the day’s item. It’s full of people complaining what a horrible, awful item that is, and anyone who could possibly want that item has to be mentally retarded. It’s like the forum posters believe they are somehow “cooler” than everyone else because they post the nastiest and meanest comments.
And I’m sure there are those of you who watch real tv who can come up with examples of meanness in today’s tv shows, how cruelty to others seems to reign supreme. Now what’s funny is a kid skateboarding down a railing, slipping off his board, and nailing himself in the crotch. Seeing people getting hurt is funny stuff. It’s not just physical pain, it’s also emotional pain. How much damage can we do to someone? Let’s laugh uproariously at that!
Am I the only one who thinks all of this is rather disgusting? That by putting oneself so thoroughly above everyone else, by cutting others down to elevate oneself, it degrades the society? I’ve been an optimist throughout most of my life, believing that in the end, Man is basically good, that given the chance, we will do the right thing by our fellow man.
I’m starting to question that.