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Monday, July 10, 2017

Adults Behaving Badly

It was a little over thirty years ago that the late Whitney Houston released a single entitled "The Greatest Love of All".  The single, which topped the Billboard Charts in the spring of 1986 was a song all about finding the best within yourself and how learning to love yourself truly is the greatest love of all.  It was a brilliant song with a lovely message, and one that still holds true in 2017.  Or, at least I would like to think so anyway.

I think right from the very first line of that song, it packs a powerful punch.  The song opens with the line "I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way".  Isn't that quite profound?  And keep in mind that Whitney was only 22 years old when that song was released.  Unfortunately, we all know how her life ended, but back in that time period she was filled with endless optimism and belief that the would can be a great place if we teach future generations well.

Alas, I don't think Ms. Houston was all that prepared for the brouhaha that has made up the year 2017 so far.

Is it just me, or does it seem like more and more adults are behaving badly these days?  It seems as though there are new stories popping up on the Internet and on local news broadcasts about how poorly adults have been acting.  People getting into road rage incidents because someone accidentally cut them off.  People lunging at fast food workers because someone accidentally forgot to put pickles on their Big Macs.  Customers reducing cashiers to tears because they tried to use a coupon that expired three years ago.  What's worse is that many of these people will be in the presence of impressionable young children who will grow up thinking that it is okay to treat people in that manner.

News flash.  It's not.  It never was.  It should never be.

Now, I think back to when I was a kid, and it seemed as though we had more positive role models to look up to.  I basically grew up in the land of the 1980s schmatzy sitcom.  We had idols like Henry Warnimont from "Punky Brewster", and Philip Drummond from "Diff'rent Strokes", and Heathcliff Huxtable from...

...yeah, you know what, scratch that last one off the list for very obvious reasons.

But aside from the fictional representations we had in my childhood years, our real life adults were supposed to be role models, and for the most part I think they succeeded.  (Well, aside from that evil teacher I had, but I've talked about her enough.)  I mean, most of my teachers taught me how to respect other people.  People were respectful to cashiers and service providers and very rarely had a cross word to say about them.  Even our politicians didn't seem to have that many scandals when I was a kid (well, aside from Clinton's dalliance with a White House intern and Dan Quayle not knowing how to spell the word potato). 

How times have changed.  And not in a good way.

I mean, how in the world can we teach our children to be decent people and be positive role models for them when you have a world leader who continues to make offensive tweets to anybody and everybody he chooses.

Yes, I'm talking about Donald Trump.  A man whose promises that he has made to his country seem to be taking a backseat to his sexist, derogatory, and immature tweets.  I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican.  A world leader should NOT be poking the hornet's nest at a time in which his country has never been more divided.  And frankly, Donald Trump is at an age where he really should know better than to act like that in front of the public, and I have absolutely no problem telling him that he has all the emotional intelligence of a two-year-old.  At the rate he is going right now, even if he comes up with some brilliant ideas to fix the American economy, his tirades on Twitter will be all that people will remember him for. 

What I think is even more deplorable is that because Trump gets away with saying some of the most idiotic things on social media, it has allowed similar minded people to do exactly the same thing.  I can't believe the amount of racist comments, sexist comments, slurs against the LGBTQ community, and outright threats to people who identify as Muslim on various pages on social media.  It has gotten so bad that I've had to block all political posts on my Facebook page because I can't stand the nastiness coming out of people's mouths...or, I guess in this case, it would be the words that are typed out from people's fingers.

It also makes me realize that social media is one of those places where people are always showing who they really are.  Even before social media, the Internet itself is a place where even the most careful spy can't be completely anonymous.

Back in the old days of the Internet when many of us used screennames to post on message boards and chat rooms there was a little bit of a mystery as most of us didn't reveal our real names at the time.  But you could get a sense of who a person really was based on how they wrote on these boards.  Usually, people develop "keyboard courage" and write a whole bunch of things that they would NEVER say on the streets or in public, and when they do that, they show people a true sense of what kind of a person they are - whether it is good or bad.

I think of social media to be the same thing, only without the anonymity of a fake name (unless you are running a sockpuppet account).  I know for a fact that some people I've seen on Facebook act one way in reality, and a completely different way on social media.  And in many of those cases, the personality they assume on Facebook is the ugly side of them.  The one that feels justified to slag off of a woman in a bikini because they feel she doesn't have the body to wear one.  The one who purposely makes racist comments about celebrities and former U.S. President Barack Obama simply because they have the right to "free speech".  The one that posts memes that purposely try to humiliate someone else because they feel they have the right to.

People who are adults and who should know better.

What sort of message are we telling the generation after us when adults behave badly?  That it's justified to bully someone?  That it's okay to slag off of someone who isn't "perfect"?  That it's okay to deny rights and services to people based on their skin colour, sexual preference, or religious background?  In no universe should this ever take place.

We are NOT given the right to "free speech" to purposely harm other people.  We are given the right to "free speech" to make the world a better place.  To challenge ideas that are outdated and closed-minded.  To teach our children and grandchildren the difference between right and wrong.  That's what free speech is to me.  And it's amazing how many adults either don't understand what that right is, or abuse it to the point where it should be revoked.

Parents.  Teachers.  Public figures.  Politicians.  We all have a stake in how we want the generations after us to behave.  Don't you think we should do our best to make sure we present ourselves in the best way possible?

After all.  When adults behave just sets the tone for how the offspring of said adults will turn out.  And frankly we already have enough jerks in this world as it is.

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