courtesy and life

When did we forfeit manners?

Facebook Decorum

1 Comment

I tend to be very confused by how Facebook functions, but I am pretty clear on seeing out and out obnoxious behavior. Obnoxious, of course, is the ultimate form of rude, impolite and discourteous.

In public, face to face, people would never verbally assault others they way they do on Facebook, nor with the frequency. We all have opinions and positions on things, and surely we are entitled not only to have those opinions, but to voice them. Sometimes our opinions are extremely strong and we “face off” with someone who holds the exactly opposite view. Why do people on Facebook feel that they can attack the person with a different opinion? The answer, in my humble opinion, is a combination of a summary lack of courtesy, a lack of self control, a lack of ability to intelligently defend one’s position and, perhaps most importantly, it is not face to face. Our fingers start flying to say what we really want to say and while in real life we would have the decorum to bite our tongue or perhaps put forth a real defense to our position, the flying fingers win and the “post” key is too readily hit.

The defense I hear to this deplorable behavior is freedom of speech. Well, let’s digress a moment or two and discuss freedom of speech. There are some exceptions such as hate speech, yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire, defamation, that sort of thing. Going beyond the exceptions, a primary purpose underlying freedom of speech is the free exchange of ideas, an open discourse, of without fear our government’s interference. The concept is remarkable and I take exception to its use as a punchline for rude remarks. Go ahead, be a blithering fool, but do not build your foundation on the falsehood that freedom of speech gives you the right to an unwarranted attack on someone. Let us have a courteous, albeit heated at times, discourse on a topic without an assault on those that do not agree with us. The point is, we should not have to defend ourselves because we should not be verbally (or textually) assaulted. Let us make use of our freedom of speech for its intended purpose, without fear of governmental interference. Freedom of speech protects no one from their own stupidity.

This forum of Facebook can be used for a real discourse on a topic where we can share and discuss various sides of any issue presented. What an incredible opportunity. I am tired of reading “you liberals are all the same,” or “you conservatives just don’t get it” or “my father can beat up your father.” It is a rude showing of someone’s own inability to have an intelligent conversation. Don’t get me wrong. I know how irritating idiots can be. I have certainly been tempted to give a verbal slap or two, but I have restrained myself from assaultive responses on most all occasions. I do my best to aim at an intelligent comment that is meant to elicit the same. I have done my best to be courteous and thoughtful toward others when discussions arise. Thoughtful in the literal sense.

It always comes down to the same thing. Do we want to be rude, discourteous and obnoxious or not? I say not. Given the opportunity, have an intelligent conversation, an exchange of ideas, being polite and receiving the same in return and perhaps learn, or teach something. If someone really has a need to hide their face and spew venom at people, remember response in kind serves no beneficial purpose. I like to discuss things, to read something that gives me a chuckle or sometimes I just want to share something with my friends.

I suggest we get a handle on our courtesies and politesse and treat people the way we would like to be treated. And, well, act our age. Be a good example and walk away from the keyboard if you can’t be.


Author: Diana G. Cunningham

Attorney at Law of 25 years, practicing in the area of Estates, Estate Litigation, Family Law, Business Matters and Real Estate.

One thought on “Facebook Decorum

  1. On the topic of courtesy and just plain old good manners I want to thank a young boy who, uon seeing my mom and I trying to yank 4 heavy pieces of luggage onto the train immediately stepped up and did it for us…he then proceeded to help others. His parents should be proud…they raised a polite and helpful young man…rare today!

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