I have blogged here about how the internet has had a negative impact on how people interact. However I have rethought that proposition and would like to restate it. I think the internet enhances peoples ability to be rude, I think the capacity for rudeness must be there already. Rudeness is really a lack of respect and this is not new however it is my belief that in tough economic times this issue is amplified. It is a reflection on the individualism and consumerism that permeates our western society and the smell is really offensive.
Now there are some people who genuinely lack social skills, they have little empathy and find relationships very hard, often self centred, very concrete in their thinking, unwilling to be challenged, you can tell these people easy, remorse is not one of their friends, and sorry is not in their vocabulary, this behaviour is sometimes located in fear and sometimes unfortunately in mental illness, other times it is just sheer ignorance.
They are generally bullies they have to have the last word. When resources are more scarce we see competition for them increase. In New Zealand we have seen some shameful things. the dawn raids where a classical example of that http://tinyurl.com/nzheralddawnraid I have noticed a lot of talk where groups are named in our society with tags like those….. referring to their racial identity. This is the first step in dehumanising people and it is necessary for bullies and non aware people as once dehumanised they can say what they want about a people group or a person with little or no remorse. The use of a collective noun is well documented in the annals of history to enhance divisions and to persecute groups in society..
Within relationships you can tell a lot but the amount of respect shown towards each other. My children are known to say tone is everything and it is in the tone of voice used that the real message may be conveyed, darling can men many different things depending on the tone of voice used. Don’t use that tone of voice with me, how many times have you heard that phrase> Sometimes tone can be misinterpreted, tiredness, can be misconstrued for disinterest or bored, fear can be misconstrued as anger.
We have a respect issue in new Zealand, it is evident in relationships from the highest level at Parliament through to kindergarten play grounds. The cult of I has influenced that and it is invidious and dangerous. Take a drive on our roads and look at how people drive, cutting people off, passing dangerously just to gain a few more minutes, not letting others in to a queue, driving under the influence of alcohol all show a lack of respect. Littering is another mark of a lack of respect.
We remonstrate at the state of the world at violence, theft, productivity you name the ill and I am willing to say that at its very basic core is a lack of respect at some level. Respect either for yourself or from others is one of those very basic requirements in our hierarchy of needs. There is a very simple answer to this issue and it boils down to each and every one of us taking a small step and addressing respect in our relationships with each other and with our world we live in. If we model respect it will be shown back to us. If our children are consistently modelled respect they will be respectful because they will know how it is done and will learn to be respectful. What a difference it could make in our world.
We also need to address issues of respect when we see disrespect in action. Recently I pointed out a conversation on facebook that was disrespectful, it involved having a moan about an organisation, the people being complained about were volunteers, I suggested to the principal moaner that such a conversation was not appropriate on facebook as it is not a private forum, oh boy did I light a fuse. In the end this person was very defensive and turned to that well worn tactic of an ad hominem argument, attacking the messenger. I stated my point respectfully but in the end I realised my futility and gave up. I did unfriend the person as it was a consistent behaviour and I just don’t need to read that kind of stuff . I will happily talk to them when I see them although I imagine they may be a little prickly but I don’t think they will change their behaviour in a hurry, looking at oneself in a reflective and honest manner is just too hard for many,
Driven by fear people stick to their old behaviours even when these result in negative outcomes. If I sound a little smug here there is good reason. I know so much about this subject because my life used to be like that, a lack of respect for others opinions, in particular an unwillingness to take responsibilities for my transgressions, thankfully I have found a new way of living and the integrity and freedom that respect brings to my life and the response by people that I am in relationship is reward for that. The biggest reward however is found when I look in the mirror and am happy with what I see.
I still get it wrong but when I realise it I address the issue, I have enough respect to apologise, try to make things right and move on, it is really as simple as that