Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Joy (?) of Facebook

Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech brought out the best and the worst of people in Facebook--both conservatives and liberals, and the reaction emphasized something that's been bothering me of late: the unbelievable crudeness of language on Facebook. At the risk of sounding like an the old fuddy-duddy some of my grandkids think I am, I have to say I'm appalled. Of course as a liberal, I'd like to say the conservatives are much worse, but unfortunately it's not true. This language comes from extremists on both sides.
Don't get me wrong. I love Facebook; I'm almost an addict. I've made many new friends there, I've gotten to know acquaintances better, and I've promoted my books, made helpful professional contacts. Sometimes it's the first way I hear of breaking national news since I don't keep the TV on when I'm working, and many times I find intelligent discussion of current economic and political conditions which enlarge my understanding.
But the use of epithets--from comparison to anatomical parts to threats of impeachment and hanging and banning from the country--strike me in terribly poor taste.
I'm afraid--and this isn't a new argument--that it reflects a decline in manners and civility in this day. We all know that were there was once collegiality and cooperation in Congress, now there is open hostility--and followers reflect that hostility in terms that should humiliate the speaker and not the subject. President Obama is of course the primary target--I once had a Facebook friend who referred to the president as the Kenyan until I insisted his mother was American and Anglo; thereafter he called him  the half-Kenyon. And that's the least of the insults. I think it's the anatomical words that bother me most--asshole being one of the milder. And of course liberal use of the F-bomb, which, sorry, I still don't believe belongs in polite society. The boys may say what they like out behind the barn.
Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell come in for their share of abusive language--and not being at all a fan of either one, I find it tempting to use slurs. But I also know that logical argument, well researched, is the best offense. Not blind accusations that sound wonderful and have more leaks than a fishing net.
Politics has probably always been full of slurs and slam--the Lincoln/Douglas debates come to mind--but frequently I long for the late nineteenth and early twentieth century when gentlemen were gentlemen and women were ladies. And people had respect for the president, elected to lead our country, and for other elected officials.
So here's a question to ponder: Have politicians perhaps brought some of this on themselves, by their behavior?
PS Sorry there was no blog last night. I actually felt creative and knew where I wanted to go next with my novel. Couldn't let go of the thread.


LD Masterson said...

I'm not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg but it almost makes sense that the governing body of a society lost to all civility would behave the same way.

I, too, long for the days of gentlemen and ladies.

Judy Alter said...

Interesting--I don't know which came first either, but it seems to me the governing body should set a model moral tone for the rest of us.