February is, at least for me, usually a feel good kind of a month. There's Valentine's Day, and Spring is on the horizon... but this year, it was a little harder than usual to muster up the warm fuzzies.
It seems everywhere I go these days, I come into contact with the reign of snarkdom. Have people just forgotten the basic rule of "treat others the way you want to be treated"... or my mother's favorite, "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all?"
It seems this way of thinking has become pervasive, from impatience on supermarket checkout lines, to the mean spirited dialogue written for characters on TV, to the God-awful comments people leave anonymously on the internet.
I spend my days creating characters that are independent and strong, yet still compassionate. I pour myself into how I craft their natures, developing them into 3-dimensional characters, tested and pushed, but still finding the strength within to hold onto their humanity. But in the real world, lately, I've had a hard time convincing myself that goodwill isn't dead and buried somewhere under a headstone that reads, "Here lies the Golden Rule." That the strength of character I try to instill in the characters I create, is but an illusion that no longer exists.
People will say, "Well, you're from New York, what did you expect to find...please, excuse me and thank you?" But this isn't something limited to my cynical city. It's all over, and I really don't know what to do about it. What's worse, is I see it popping up in the schools my children attend, in the way the kids speak to each another. Of course, the reason why is they're mimicking what they hear and see around them and on TV.
As a society, have we become so soulless that our idea of humor is so entrenched in the self-serving, that the lines between mean and funny are forever blurred? And where is it written that it's acceptable to leave non-substantive yet hurtful commentary all over the internet, and that today it's not only expected, it's considered downright cool?
Part of me cringes inwardly because I know I sound like our grandparents back in the day, when they tried to protest that Rock-n-Roll Rubbish as they called it. But in this case, it I don't think it's so much a shift in freedom of expression as much as it's a blatant disregard for common respect, consideration and right vs. wrong.
Some argue that it's fallout from not enough accountability and too much entitlement. And while I don't know about that, I do believe the warning signs are flashing red, especially when in places like Cincinnati, Ohio, school districts have to bribe students with gift cards to get them to attend school.
Perhaps it's not as bad as my experiences this past month have made it seem, and there are people out there who still believe you go farther with a kind word than a nasty one, and that a job well done is worth the effort you have to put in. One can only hope. At least that's what I keep telling myself.