Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What the hell happened?

Turn on the news and you see it. Sometimes, there is a local and concerted effort to make a change. Often, the story is buried within a day or so and everybody goes back to their lives. Take it from somebody who has been out of circulation for a has gotten worse.

Bullies. Rudeness. Self-absorption.

Too many people turn a blind eye to these stories. As a product of the 60s and 70s, I grew up in a time where there was considerably more of a "mind-your-own-business" mentality. Still, things have gotten bad when children are taking their lives because people can say what they want on social media while hiding behind the perception that they can act with impunity. (Did we really need to develop cyber-crime laws? Apparently. Score one for lawyers everywhere.)

Being out of circulation for over a decade, one of the biggest shocks and adjustments is how society has changed for the worse. Yes, there are still good people, but as a whole, there is a huge difference. Think of a friend that you might have not seen for a while, and they say "Wow, you have lost weight!" (notice how I went for the positive?) You might not have noticed that weight loss because you see yourself every day. But that person is using an old frame of reference. That is the place I am coming from.

Is it all the fault of social media? No. There are some wonderful aspects to such things. It has shrunken the world to an amazing degree, helped people find long lost family members, and meet friends (or even spouses) that they might have never had the opportunity to encounter. It helped topple the Egyptian government.

But is has allowed for a degree of anonymity and a sense of security where people--mostly cowards (sorry, but it is about to be a bit negative)--who say things they would never have the courage to say to somebody's face. "Trolls" and other unsavory types can crawl out from under their rocks. It is sad that we now read stories of indie writers who hire these sorts to slam so-called rivals like there might not be enough room in the market for anybody besides themselves. All the while, those sorts usually have planted a "poor victim" flag in their front yard and feel justified in their actions.

Worse, it has trickled into the schools. As if being a kid isn't hard enough. Now the cliques and bullies can mount campaigns to make their targets miserable even in the safety of their home where they once fled to get away from the muck for a few hours.

I am not saying that the 80s were ideal...or the 90s...or any other decade for that matter. What I am saying is that perhaps everybody needs to watch "Pay it forward" or something. Negativity is quicksand, and once you are drawn into it, you may never return. And if you do, you might never be the same. Is it so difficult to be nice? There is a lot of evidence that it is healthier. Try might like it.

When is the last time that you volunteered your time? When is the last time you stepped in to help somebody without being asked?

If you think one person can't make a didn't pay attention in history class. Every movement starts someplace.

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