This is related to one of my most recent posts, regarding anger and fear as addictions.
In recent years, this country has seen a severe degradation of basic social skills. That has led me to occasionally refer to “America, Trailer Park Version”.
Many people have remarked on this for years but much of the time they refer to more superficial aspects, such as the use of “sir” or “ma’am”, which are too often used as a means of power manipulation. What I refer to is more basic. The lack of respect illustrated by a large percentage of people in everyday life.
One huge illustration of this is people interrupting one another. Even as I write this, I can barely think of a single time I have been speaking in the past several weeks where I was not interrupted by either the person I was speaking with or someone interjecting themselves with no invitation.
What is worse is that much of the time, the person interrupting does so with something completely unrelated to the subject at hand. The same is true with comments on social media. It has become like a national case of Tourette Syndrome.
This is not new. I have been watching this develop over decades. Watch TV news panels with multiple talking heads and they interrupt each other. Political debaters interrupt one another and go mostly unregulated by the alleged moderators. Comedies think it’s funny, dramas think it’s dramatic.
Some believe the loudest voice is the one heard. I do not agree. The loudest voice is the most obnoxious, least intelligent, to be heard last and least.
I know many will try and find someone to blame for this. Drug companies, minorities, women, schools, you name it. However, if you engage in this behavior you need look no further for blame than yourself. You cannot decry negative behavior when you personally propagate that exact same behavior. Blame fixes nothing.
Honestly, this is one thing which drove me to start creating content. Trying to discuss issues became nearly impossible with people trying to scream over each other, divert subjects or be obnoxious enough to mute any opposing views. Of course, my block list on social media is extensive. By creating content, I am able to cover individual topics thoroughly. Even then, I get comments which clearly indicate the person did not read the post, which I call out.
It does not end with speech by any means. People cut each other off in traffic. Even block entire aisles in grocery stores or needlessly stand in doorways or walkways, refusing to give walking space to others
There is an old saying, “If you want respect you must give respect.” This is true. When you think of people you personally encounter, do you respect those who treat you without respect? By extension, if you do not respect a person will you respect the ideas that person represents? This is literally a tactic used by paid trolls. They will portray themselves as indicative of the kind of people who promote certain ideas while being insulting and abusive. The intent is to discredit a movement by invalidating those who promote that movement.
As much as young people are spoken of poorly by older people, I see more hope with younger people than Gen X or Baby Boomers, who focus entirely on themselves. Millennials and younger seem to show more respect across racial, religious, sexual identity and gender lines than their older counterparts. Are they perfect? No, they are young and have to work past the indoctrination they have had forced upon them.
It’s not easy rejecting deeply ingrained societal norms. Yet that is precisely what we must do if we want to change the way our society works for the better. Meaning better for all of us, not just for those already privileged. Maybe that is why I see hope in younger people. They have not grown up with the privileges that previous generations have. They see the system for what it is, tilted in favor of existing wealth at the expense of those without.
If we want positive change, respect is mandatory. Speech is truly the most important indicator of that respect. When you interrupt others, you are literally saying that you don’t care what they are talking about and do not respect them as a human being. If that is how you feel, then have the guts to say that directly and say nothing else. Give them the option to end the conversation entirely or block you. Anything else you say is wasted air. Then ask yourself why anyone should respect your words.