The End of Civility

Men Arguing
Men Arguing (Photo credit: o5com)

Recently, I accepted a Facebook Friend Request from a friend of a friend. Soon after, this person’s posts started landing in my Facebook Home. Many of them were angry, vicious even, laced with hateful and vulgar language toward friends and family members. I have no interest in ‘hearing’ such language nor am I interested in exposure to such venom. Will online interactions, Facebook and otherwise, crush the few manners still present in our society? Once upon a time, one could count on a certain amount of civility in public interactions due to the constraints of the culture.  And, despite the illusion to the contrary, for most of us, our Facebook posts are public interactions. Even if we limit interactions to friends, that still could mean hundreds of readers. Perhaps our culture hasn’t caught up to the Facebook age but I think it more likely that the constraints of civility are giving way to anything goes. Even at the grocery store or at ballgames, folks push these constraints to the breaking point. Apparently multiple organizations across the country share my concern as local schools, hospitals and even a college recently launched civility awards for employees as well as public figures. Like them, I simply want to find kindness and self-control a more frequent guest in our interactions, online and otherwise. And this is particularly true for us as Christians when we consider that the Holy Spirit gives us the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)” How can we proclaim the truth of the gospel of Christ with integrity if we contaminate our communications in ways so contrary to His nature?

 

About Rev Uch

I'm a United Methodist pastor serving Hyde Park United Methodist in Tampa, Florida. My husband and I have been here since July 2016. We are thrilled to be back in this area closer to most of our immediate family. In Tampa on a Sunday? Stop by one of our six weekly services. Find out more at www.hydeparkumc.org/worship.
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2 Responses to The End of Civility

  1. Nancy McDonald says:

    Very true, Kim. Wounding words published online or expressed verbally have a vicious effect on those who read or hear them. What happened to the expression “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Maybe it’s a learned character trait passed down from my family and friends but I try not to have the bitterness in my heart that makes me want to lash out at others. You can’t possibly feel good inside if you are spewing angry words at others.

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  2. Amber says:

    Sad but true. I am guilty of it.

    For some reason, call it current state of society or culture, but we just lose sight of the fact that EVERYONE is our neighbor and due our respect and love…

    Perhaps each of us needs to step up to the plate in every interaction and make the conscious choice to deliberately do the right thing no matter the cost/consequence. I don’t expect it will be easy and will likely end in some failures but just one mustard seed can do great things…

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