Old Values for a New Age?

Without the brilliant comedy of late night talk show hosts, the decline of America’s social fabric would weigh more heavily on me. My longing for a kinder, gentler society that values civility would no doubt drive me insane. I wonder if others share the feeling that America has “lost it”?

“It” is how we engage and communicate with each other—a critical piece of our humanity. This isn’t about politics or sexually explicated language. It’s about the deterioration of basic politeness and rational action evidenced in our most basic cultural forms: musical lyrics that spew hate and advocate violence; tweeted aspersions; infiltration of such fare on prime time TV and radio (particularly talk shows). It’s a maleficent menu that includes road rage and offensive gestures.

As a communications professional who has for decades made a living carefully choosing words, I am concerned—no, deeply afraid—where displays of disrespect may be leading us. I envision a slippery slope. After all, it was shocking to hear that four-letter word for the first time in a business conversation, but it doesn’t take long to become de-sensitized.

While I applaud the open nature of the internet and social media for myriads of opportunities, I have serious misgivings about the lack of personal accountability for published information. Should candor entail abuse? Should honesty give way to rude behavior?

Our language reveals who we are as individuals and who we are as a culture and society. What’s to become of “us”?