I wonder sometimes if we are witnesses to the death of ages-old customs and behavior.
It seems that some of the ways I learned growing up no longer apply. That in itself is not a bad thing--I can wear pants in public and women have a lot more freedom and rights now than we did back in the 50's. My last position with the library was traditionally a man's job, and I suppose I was the first female Facilities Manager there (shoot, I was the first Facilities Manager, period). I can go almost anywhere I want (even though quite often a trip into an auto parts or repair place means having to assert that yes I do know what I'm talking about).
We can speak more freely too, with fewer barriers on our speech. But perhaps therein lies the worm. With more freedom we old-timers know, comes more responsibility. Responsibility to be aware of the feelings of others, the ease with which our words can hurt or offend.
I am a member of quite a few Facebook groups and I see the same problems erupt over and over: someone uses a four letter word (because they can) and someone gets offended. Escalation is swift to name-calling, more four letter words and usually obnoxious images to get the point across. This doesn't seem to be age-related, as people of all ages happily take part. It spans age groups, sexes, races, and sometimes even religions. I won't even mention politics! There the slinging gets intense and ridiculous.
People feel more free to vent when they can hide behind a computer screen, we all know that is a fact. And yet I have to wonder, is there really that much pent-up rage and stress out there? Are people really as nasty and mean-spirited as they easily behave online?
I am okay with uncensored groups, and I surely understand the frustration that leads to a post littered with the f-word. What stuns me is the level of insult and name-calling people sink to in what should be a simple and fun forum.
The change in behavior isn't limited to the online environment either. I am shocked when in passing I hear the vulgar language so casually used by our young people. I sound like my Dad! But it seems to me that there is a lack of respect--and self-respect--that has become endemic in today's society. Cussin' in private is one thing, but slinging it around in public with no regard who hears you? That makes the cusser look bad, at least in my eyes, and I am betting I'm not alone in feeling that way.
Another change I've noticed is the short-sightedness, the I-want-it-and-I don't-care-who-I run-over-to-get-it attitude. There seems to be a general attitude of entitlement that is disturbing and indicative of a society that is become self-centered and, well, selfish.
Am I just being an old codger? I am sure my grandparents were shocked at the free an easy behavior of their offspring during and after WWII, and even earlier during the Roaring 20's. Then there was my own generation in the 60's and 70's--Lord knows we certainly flaunted the accepted ways and probably made our parents crazy! So maybe this is just a passing thing, and we will look back and say, "Oh yeah! Remember how everyone was posting selfies and being rude back in teens?"
But what I am seeing isn't just the younger generation sowing wildness--it's people my age, people older and younger. Age doesn't seem to be the qualifier in this case; it seems to be a societal change. Freedom has come to mean the freedom to be mean and vulgar, to grab and not look back.
We've changed, all right. And in this old granny's opinion, it's not a change for the better.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.