It seems like rude is the new polite.
It is nearly impossible to go anywhere in public and not see someone or a lot of someones sitting or walking around with their attention fixed on the little device in their hand. Looking at a tiny display, swiping a finger on that tiny screen, or typing their fingers on that tiny screen.
Everyone is now connected to a data server thousands of miles away caught in the virtual world removed from reality. In a distant past, people use to eat dinner together, talk to one another (in person), and pay attention to one another. Now those people may eat dinner together but spend half the time scrolling through screens on their phones and punching up apps to see that latest social media updates from their ‘friends’.
Technology and constant information have become this generation’s addition. No one can seem to be away from their online lives for more than a few seconds without getting fidgety and going through withdrawals. As we live more and more of our lives in an online world, we become detached from reality. People forget that there are actual people on the other end of that virtual world that have feelings. People become cyber-courageous. We are transitioning into a virtual world where people type anything they want because they do not need the courage to say the same face to face. It's just you and your phone and maybe a static picture of the other person who never changes expression regardless if you ask how’s the weather or tell them how stupid they are.
It is easy to blame the younger generation, saying that this is a problem with their instant gratification generation. However, the truth is that we as parents are the ones teaching our kids to be cyber-courageous. For example, my wife loves to read Nie Nie dialogues. She finds her blog posts to be uplifting. Yet, while she is trying to promote positive messages, you have others that post online comments about her such as:
“She is so up herself, it is unreal. She is preachy and crams her religion down every post. She is so self-congradulatlry, it makes me ill, She might have been an interesting blogger at one time, but now her blog is all about all the wonderful opportunities that come from selling her story of survivorship. I don't begrudge that so much as I begrudge the fact that she doesn't do much to give back to... anyone. She has turned her blog into a mission, which is sickening. When she is not promoting herself, her posts are simply advertorials. That is SO not interesting to read.
I'm glad she fought and survived, and I am happy for the progress that she's made. But her blog sucks and she seems like a rotten, self-absorbed person.”
Before you say I would never say something like that online, go back through every comment you have posted this last week, every text you have sent, and every comment you have made online and see if others would say you are being cyber-courageous.
With cyber-courage at an all-time high combined with TV and movies going more and more over the top, we need to be teaching our kids not to be cyber-courageous. We need to teach them that there are other people on the end of their texts, posts, and comments. We need to be teaching our kids (and ourselves) what real courage is. What it really means to stand up for something or someone. President Monson shared a great talk in April 2004 called “A Call for Courage.” In it he shares:
“Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval.”
As we each look at the examples we are setting for our kids and family, let’s make sure to be teaching them what real courage is, not the false idol of cyber-courage.