Tuesday, September 15, 2009

hints on etiquette


Andrew and I post quotes on our fridge from movies we like. One of them, from Woody Allen's film Manhattan, is: "Really biting satire is always better than physical force."

I'm not the first to write about the recent high-profile outbursts in the news: Serena Williams, Joe Wilson, and now Kanye West. I won't bother explaining each incident since all three have been Trending Topics on Twitter which means there's enough fodder on the world-wide web to educate yourselves.

The fact that all three happened in the same week has become the catalyst in a slew of delicious satire directed at the current state of decorum: here, here, here, and here (the last of which was written by one of my favourite satirical columnists, Maureen Dowd, at the New York Times). George Will of the Washington Post quotes:
We've decided that it is therapeutic to express oneself no matter how coarse one's thoughts, and that whatever is therapeutic is good. I think we're seeing a kind of emotional exhibitionism whereby people say, 'I said something ghastly, but I said it honestly and sincerely.' And honesty, sincerity, and authenticity are self-legitimizing.
In our own, homegrown Globe & Mail this morning, Judith Timson wrote a great article about what she labels "entitlemenia". Like Timson, I agree that private poetic license the stage has been set for public outbursts. Intelligent, witty, and well-phrased (don't even GET me started on grammatical precision) comments are far outweighed by uncouth comments from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to blogs. Andrew and I were just hypothesizing about how brave most of the commentators would be in person, without a computer and the internet between themselves and their victims. Bravado builds slowly until it ruptures on tennis courts, in congress, or on stage. In a heated moment on stage, it's difficult to curb a foul mouth that has been fed backstage.

Timson writes:
The Internet and the opportunity it provides for everyone and anyone to boldly disseminate their opinions might promote rudeness but it also nurtures democracy and connectedness in a way that Marshall McLuhan never dreamed of when he coined the phrase “global village.” We need to somehow make civility sexy again in this global village.
As I remind Andrew when he feels a bout of brutal honesty coming on: "Just because it's true doesn't mean it has to be said." And when I use profanity casually, to make a point or for jest, he counters with, "You're more intelligent than that."

I'm bringing civility sexy back.



2 comments:

Dave Carrol said...

"Just because it's true doesn't mean it has to be said."

Excellent.

Andrew G said...

;-)

and then there are times when the brutal truth just works.