Daily Archives: July 9, 2013

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

So, what is up with people today? The week just started, and I was subjected to two different, grown professional women who were close to tears because somebody’s meanness (i.e. BIGOTRY) took them back to those childhood years when they were bullied because of their racial difference. Seriously!

I’m referring to:

1.) Brittney Cooper, a plus-sized black female professor (someone whom I once met at an academic conference), who wrote about her experience during the 4th of July holiday, when a mother (traveling with her two sons!) texted that she had to sit next to a “Big Fat N-” on the plane.  The hateful words brought back painful memories.

2.) Julie Chen, the Asian American CBS host of “The Talk” and “Big Brother” revealed how the racism exhibited on the latest season of Big Brother brought back memories of when her schoolmates made slant-eye gestures and referred to her with racial slurs.

GROWN women taken back to that hateful place of childhood when little bullies didn’t know any better because they were all about ID and not yet developed in considering the hurt feelings of others.

GROWN women! And I’m going to keep saying that: GROWN women, who were having that hurtful moment because, yes, GROWN people are resorting to hurtful, mean, bigoted remarks. Absolutely pathetic!

So, I gotta ask: not just the Taylor Swift question – “Why you gotta be so mean?” – but the more obvious question – “Why have you not developed any social skills as an adult that would prevent you from being so mean?”

Seriously, have people gotten meaner?  The story about the Big Brother contestants mouthing off such hateful racist and homophobic slurs oh-so-nonchalantly was absolutely mind-blowing.  When did we sink so low as a society that any GROWN woman or man would think such a personality disorder (and let’s be real, folks: Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a big deal!) would help gain them fans and a bid to win a reality TV prize? What’s going on?

And why would a GROWN woman who is a mother of two be oh-so-cavalier in texting (TEXTING! This leaves a record!!) an insult about who she’s sitting next to on a plane?

This is normal behavior?

Some folks will say: Yes, HG, there are lots of bigots out there, and their bigotry and overall meanness is just the way they think and express themselves. 

I’m not so sure I believe this. Meanness and bigotry are not “normal.” They are, however, a normalizing process.

And I wonder how much of our digital culture has contributed to this?

Social media has been able to generate new information and enable folks to network and mobilize around common interests (whether in planning to go to the next big David Archuleta concert or organizing street protests against a regime – see Egypt – or a corporation – see Occupy Wall Street).

Still, for all the positives of the Internet, there are so many negatives, to the point where folks have been warned against reading comments on You Tube, they are so toxic in their racist bigotry.

Heck, even here, Soul David has gotten a reputation for being anti-LDS, just because some commenters have been highly critical of his faith (critical to the point that it’s become customary to always have such comments, even if my blog post is about – oh, I don’t know, David’s THIGHS).

Perhaps social media has enabled the no-filter function of our opinions (and God knows I do not have extra time in my day to sift through and moderate comments on a regular basis, nor do I want to since I’m absolutely convinced that the folks who congregate here are – let me repeat that – GROWN adults, who should have enough sense on their own to express themselves while filtering thoughts that may be deemed offensive).

But how do you FILTER for offensiveness? I’m ready for our computer geniuses to create that next big gadget because it would save a whole bunch of us a lot of angst, hurt feelings, and exasperation.

Not to mention: we need a FILTERING gadget to clean up the toxins left behind in digital culture.  When the term INTERNET RACISTS has become a given, you know our Mean Culture has gotten out of control.

So, you know, you expect that on Social Media. How the heck, though, does that end up on a network TV show? And why, when traveling on a plane, would you be bumping up against someone who texts that you’re the N-word?

What is that about?  And are people really that mean? Or, are they only mean because a computer or mobile phone brings out the meanness, or a camera turns them into Mr. Hyde?

How do we become better people, even if the culture encourages narcissistic behavior and an environment that suggests that you don’t have to care one iota about somebody else’s feelings?

But, I could go on and on about the Internet and its contribution to Mean Culture.  At the end of the day, our gadgets are just that: tools. It’s how you use those tools that reveal your essence.

When certain celebrities opened Twitter accounts, I often got a glimpse of less-than-flattering people whose filters came off.  It only took 140 characters to reveal the unpleasantness?

And that’s also, ironically, how I became an even bigger uberfan of David Archuleta. He was part of that early generation of celebrity tweeters, and not once did he ever tweet offensiveness (well… okay, okay… there was that one time he upset some of his gay fans when he laughed off the fact that he was seen at a gay club .. but still, no meanness there).

David exhibited the qualities of a person who always thinks before speaking (or tweeting) and who is very considerate of other people’s feelings. I’d like to think such qualities are the rule, not the exception.

Perhaps it’s a sign of good that so many are outraged over such bigotry exhibited in our world today. Still, we could do better, and more role models like David could counter this culture of meanness.