Aspire higher: Let graciousness and civility be your guide

March 2019 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Two of my favorite words regarding social media decorum are “Graciousness” and “Civility.” For those who use social media, especially Facebook, are unfamiliar with those words and do not have access to a dictionary, here are their definitions, courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary:

Graciousness – excellence of manners or social conduct. good manners, courtesy – a courteous manner. Suaveness, suavity, blandness, smoothness – the quality of being bland and gracious or ingratiating in manner. Ungraciousness – an offensive lack of good manners.

Civility – Formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. “I hope we can treat each other with civility and respect.” 

I once sat on a plane with a young man from the south. We were talking about societal woes, and he remarked, “What we have lost is our sense of graciousness.”
That was 40 years ago. His words are
timely now, too.

Part of the culprit is social media. People seem to hide behind what they believe is a cloak of invisibility because they are not sitting in front of the “offender.” Yet their name is attached, so off goes the cloak.

It seems we are moving into a day
where hair triggers snap with the slightest perceived slight. Remark that you dislike President Trump and you immediately become a “snowflake” or, even more offensive, a “libtard.” 

Mention you think “The Wall” may be an effective tool in curbing illegal immigration, and many in the social media world brand you a “racist”. 

Do you believe single payer/universal healthcare is a viable approach to solving our runaway health care crisis? “We don’t want no stinkin’ socialists here.” Wish the President success in his second North Korea summit, and you get, “He’s going to kill us all by starting a nuclear war!”

My goal is not to persuade you to roll over and play dead when someone says something you don’t like, but envision this. If someone next to you in the restaurant orders the Boeuf Bourguignon and pronounces if “Boof Borgignon” your social filters probably kick in and you continue eating your Coquille St. Jacques without commentary. Good for you. That is what is supposed to happen when one practices the art of graciousness.

Mea culpa. I will snap on rare occasion when someone says something utterly silly on Facebook. One woman recently said that getting the measles is not serious, just an inconvenience. Another said there are just a few cases in the U.S. now so “What’s the big deal. No one has died.” Food for thought – the World Health Organization says 110,000 died of measles-related complications worldwide in 2017. This highly-contagious disease was almost totally eradicated in the U.S. Vaccines work, are cost-effective, and have few side effects. Advil probably has more. But some people do not believe this. “Big Pharma and government are in bed together.” “Measles vaccines cause autism!” (totally de-bunked).

If you can walk away, good call. If you can say, “What is driving this issue for you that makes you so passionate about it?”  is gracious and civil. There is an adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Old adages become so because they usually hold some truths.

It is hard to not respond when someone says, “There is a lot of good to be said about White Nationalism….” No, there isn’t. A friend posted an article on Facebook that implored us to talk nicely, respond civilly, and keep it respectful. Another responded, “Not when they make racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, violent remarks.” I get the point. It is hard, but confrontation is useless. I don’t know of a single person who has had a metamorphosis because of something someone said on Facebook.

Civility and Graciousness – “Come on down!”. 

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.