Editorial: Decorum and civility

We live in a time where often thoughtless comments are rampant and outright rudeness has grown common. It would appear that people’s filters are no longer being used. Have we entered a time where civility and decorum have given way to 280 character insults, sarcastic emojis and hurtful memes?

Since the advent of social media, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, expressing a comment nowadays, has “evolved” to the point where news stories find readers getting into the online text equivalent of shouting matches. No one appears ready to accept that someone might have a different point of view, or a different opinion on a variety of topics. Disagreeing has not led to discussions, or analysis or even rational debate. Accusations, insults and vitriol have replaced courtesy and a willingess to listen. What a shame.

What seems to make it all worse is that people are choosing to make vicious comments while “hiding” behind their keyboards. They feel perfectly entitled, at least on their social media sites, to say things they would never say to another person face to face. This kind of anonymous sniping is not progress.

The right to make statements, observations and comments, to agree or disagree on line is part of the right to free speech: this is a right enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms just as freedom of the press is. We in Canada are lucky to have these rights: much of the world does not.

However, the right to free speech and free expression does not absolve the speaker (or writer) of responsibility for what he says.

When did our society start sliding down the slippery slope, freely trading insults and barbs?

Was it during the 2015 or the 2019 Federal Elections? During the 2016 US election? Or just during some random event five years ago.

The point is, this vitriol needs to stop.

Our society needs to get past the point where every comment, insult, or joke should be posted whenever the idea presents itself. We need to return to, or get to, the point where everyone takes the time to think before they speak, or type.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t have the courage to make a comment in person, then don’t type it online.

Since you’re here…

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