I think we would all agree that our society has shifted a bit from how we used to treat one another to what we're seeing in today's world. It wasn’t long ago when it was okay to voice your opinion or point of view without being verbally attacked. People could have healthy debates with one another and still show respect. You could even have opposing viewpoints and still continue to have a friendship with them. We had the ability to look beyond the issue and see the person as a unique individual with their own backgrounds, life experiences, values, and beliefs.
Since when did we become so intolerant? We are so quick to voice our disdain in truly the most awful ways, showing little to no regard for that person's RIGHT to their own beliefs. When did we become so divisive with the absolute need to be “right”? And who nominated us as the ultimate authority on what’s right and what’s wrong? Even better, as this will blow your mind if you can handle it, is there a right and wrong opinion? And if so, what are the parameters that determine which category it's placed in? It’s too easy these days to respond with some cutting remark that boosts your ego a bit more. “I got him/her!” Or the classic, “Eh I don’t care! Doesn’t affect me!”. I won’t even mention the usage of “Karen” because it’s just too obnoxious to even go there.
In this day and age, where someone can sit on their sofa, watching the latest 2 ½ star Netflix movie, secluded from the rest of the world, and everything they could possibly want hand delivered to them, it’s more than likely that their ability to consider other viewpoints has dramatically decreased. We create our own little world inside our own bubble and anything outside of that bubble is “wrong”. Furthermore, if it doesn’t affect us, we tune it out as noise altogether. “Doesn’t affect me, so why should I care!” We’ve essentially turned into hermit crabs. We’ll only come out if we feel it’s safe. But if we start to feel threatened in any way, we’ll pinch you until you scream and then crawl back into our shell to sulk.
We’ve started to debate the debates even, arguing who’s to blame for this "downfall" of society, this regression of human decency. But does it really matter where it came from or where the breakdown occurred in essentially turning into bullies. You could respond and say, “Well if we could pinpoint the exact medium, platform, public figure, etc… that caused us to be such a polarizing group of humans, then we can throw them in the stockyard and gain our civility back". But I argue that it’s not just one thing that led us to where we are today. Everything and everyone has contributed to this. We, as a collective group, are at fault.
Now that we have settled that, what is our plan of attack to fix it? Because surely, we can not continue down this path as it will be the death of our society. That is, unless, you enjoy living in this heavy, dark, and hyper-sensitive atmosphere 24/7. I personally would rather join Elon Musk in Mars, if that’s the case.
What we all need to understand is that no matter if you like it or not, we learn and grow as individuals and as a society FROM each other. The ability to step outside your inflated ego to see someone else's point of view actually improves your own life as you experience less depression, anxiety, loneliness, and fear. Sick of everyone being on edge and pissy lately? Take a look in the mirror and see how you’ve been behaving.
Humans are naturally social beings. We must have positive interactions with one another in order for us to grow as healthy individuals. Someone who feels the need to put another person down for voicing their opinions ultimately says to the world, “I don’t respect myself, so I can’t respect anyone else”. Because if they had self-respect and dignity, they would be embarrassed by their behavior. Healthy individuals do not sink to new lows in spewing out hateful words. In the past, how well you treated someone was a reflection of who you were as a person. You would be seen as a highly refined individual and regarded as someone to look up to. The ability to control your actions, words, and emotions was once seen as a virtue. Now it seems that the more digital blood you spill in clashes with anyone and everyone online, the more “tough girl/guy” points you get. It’s a bizarre world we live in. It’s one in which we actually are so lonely that instead of trying to connect with one another, we push people away, resulting in more loneliness. But we, individually, have the power to shift it into a better place to live, just by the choices we make everyday on who we want to be. That is unless, you look up to trolls.
What Can You Do To Truly Be The Change You Wish to See In The World?
Step outside your bubble and quiet the voice inside your head in order to gain a new POV, one you might have never thought of before. The more open you are, I guarantee, the more you will start to feel whole as a person again and not some bitter, resentful closed-minded individual. You can blame your neighbor, the stranger that cut you off on the road, the government, whoever! But ultimately, it falls on YOU to act according to your own values as a person. Always remember, just because you may not agree with someone, doesn’t give you the right to verbally insult them.
Before you hit the “post/send” button, reread the words you are about to say to another human being. Then ask yourself if you’re acting as a person who has values and a personal code of conduct on how people should be treated. No one is immune to how hurtful words can be, whether it comes from someone they know or not. Choose your words carefully because you are talking to a human being after all. And no matter how much you may disagree with that person, no one is forcing you to be in a conversation with them nor do you have to feed the fire by insulting them.
Ask clarifying questions to ensure you’re understanding the person correctly before you misinterpret what you’re hearing/reading and decide to pounce on them. How many times have you run into the, “That’s not what I’m saying!” issue? Actively listen to the person without thinking about what you want to stay next. So what if they didn’t use the English language perfectly to ensure there would be no misinterpretation? Get over it and make it your job to actively listen to what they are saying and ask questions to fully understand the point they’re trying to make.
When was the last time you gave a stranger, friend, family member, etc.. a sincere compliment? We’ve almost lost how to be friendly towards one another and instead are looking to find all the things that are wrong. Stranger or friend, say something kind to another person today. You know how it feels when someone says something super nice to you? You feel your face muscles relax into a smile. (Remember, smiling?!) So return that gift to someone else. If you’re sick of people being rude, it has to start with you to be the example of what respect is. Remember, monkey see, monkey do.
Choose your thoughts wisely. Start today. Start now. Respect starts with YOU and how you show up not for anyone but as a reflection of how you see yourself. It’s much easier for our brains to go down a negative rabbit hole than a positive one, to think the worst about our lives, about the world, and about other people. Start a new script in your head. Rewrite your thoughts. YOU are in control of your own thinking. Do you think the negative thoughts that you ALLOW bring anything positive into your life? Go one day without thinking one negative thought. It’s harder than it sounds, but is 100% doable. The world and its people are definitely not as bad as your allowing your brain to think.
You only have control over yourself. It’s not about being the “bigger person”. It’s about staying true to who YOU are: a compassionate and respectful grown ass adult. Next time someone is unkind to you, take just one second to consciously choose your reaction. A rude response back to them will not ultimately change anything. There are ways to respectfully hold up a mirror to show the person their ugly behavior. Then THEY can decide if they like who they are. It doesn’t come from you lashing back at them. If you truly want the world to change, it starts with you.