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Date
October 29, 2012

Civility

Are online comments out of control?
Transcript

Gary: You have probably read the comments… watched it on shows… or seen it go viral. Young people being mean. One study says it is getting worse.

Bradley Honan: More than 60% of the American public today says that there is a civility problem in the country today – and it is a major problem. And it has actually gotten a lot worse over the last couple of years.

Gary: Bradley Honan’s company recently helped conduct a study – Civility in America 2012. The conclusion? America is suffering from a ‘national civility disorder.’ Of those of who say we are ruder, more than half – 55% – blame young people.

So, Paul, have you ever seen people acting rudely in public?

Paul Sutton: Yes, many times.

Kassin: Like New York, for example. They just walk around, they push you and they don’t say I’m sorry.

Sinan Giyalan: I mean, being a teenager, frankly, I’m usually in a group of people that’s being loud.

Gary: Henry Alford is the author of Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? A Modern Guide to Manners.

Henry Alford: If you look at TV, the music world, all of those are places that are really glorifying bad behavior. And the younger you are, the less you realize these aren’t role models.

Gary: So, is the idea of rudeness or civility relative – meaning what may be rude to me may not be rude to another person?

Henry: I think different things have different values now. And that as society shifts we have to keep sort of reassigning levels of what’s okay, what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Gary: According to the study, Americans blame the media, celebrities, corporations, social media and pro athletes for the increase in negativity.

But who gets blamed the most?

President Obama: …would not apply to those here illegally.

Joe Wilson: You lie!

Gary: Nearly two-thirds blame politicians and government officials.

Bradley: One of the things that was most startling to me, and depressing to me, was how many people were saying that political discourse today in this country is so bad. It’s so negative that good people don’t want to get involved in public service. And if the young people in our country decide that they’re not going to go ahead and be active in public service, I think it spells very, very bad things for the future of the country.

Gary: And the free-for-all comments on social media sure isn’t helping.

Henry: To my mind, the worst American manners are the comment sections on websites. They’re just getting on and they’re just vomiting all over the screen.

Kassin: I think people leave mean comments because they feel superior because no one knows who they are.

Gary: Have you guys ever left nasty comments online before?

Henry: Yeah, definitely.

Gary: And why did you do that?

Paul: Just for laughs, mostly. Just so I get a reaction from people. Maybe someone could be offended but it’s mostly for the laughs.

Henry: People feel like they can say and do whatever they want to and there are no consequences, particularly if you’re using a screen name that’s not your own name.

Gary: Although America’s rudeness seems like it is out of control, there still may be hope.

Henry: I think it starts with owning up to your own bad manners. And I think that once you realize you’re doing this stuff unintentionally, then you’re starting to make the world a better place.

Gary: Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.

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