Rude America

The Today show on TV this morning had an interesting segment about Rude America. It really struck home with me and I wanted to think about it through this writing. The piece basically referenced emails and group posts, focusing on whether what we write online is the same as what we would actually say to someone face to face. I wondered if I was braver about saying things in print than I am about saying things in person.

I appreciated the fact that the professionals in the segment noted how face to face someone may start to express negative feelings to another person, but then read the person’s reaction. Certainly if I began to tell someone about my frustration toward them and they immediately begin apologizing or admitting that they were wrong; I would simply stop my words of negativity. Unfortunately, online we do not have that face to face read that tells us we’ve made our point with just a few words. At times, I’ve likely written posts and emails that continued past the few words that needed to be written for the other person to reach understanding. Yet, I continued since I couldn’t feel or see the other person’s reaction.

My other concern about Rude America is the possibility that I sometimes jump on the Rude Bandwagon. Do I agree with another person’s negative comments and add my own when I would not have originally thought to write them? I hope not!

While some Facebook and Yahoo groups are designed to foster contrary discussions, many others are meant for healthy, helpful advice and communication. I’ve just got to remember which is which. I do, however, believe that I can write in the former without being rude. We learned as teachers to comment on the actions of the student and not on the person. The negative actions can come from good people and I never wanted to hurt the student but simply correct the behavior.

Rude hurts! I’ve felt it online much more often than I’ve felt it in person. While I cannot control what others type, I can control my own fingers. I am trying to carefully read what I write prior to pressing post or send on my computer. . . . AND, if I forget to check, there’s always that little delete post possibility on Facebook. Since I don’t have that luxury on my emails, I guess I’d better read them twice before sending. I really don’t want to be a contributor to RUDE AMERICA. Do you?

4 thoughts on “Rude America”

  1. That’s a great post, Karen. I know that as someone who has cultivated friendships and in fact met my husband online, it is far easier to say things online (aka, not face to face). You can say things without having to worry about tone of voice, the expression on your face, and without having to witness the direct reaction to your words. In many, many ways, it’s a great thing. People can be far more honest, which can foster great friendships by allowing more open, personal discussion. However, it can also have devastating consequences, especially in email or chat rooms, where there isn’t a delete button. (Side note: did you know gmail has an “unsend” feature in their tools?) I know I have had quite the opportunity to express things in ways that definitely could have been better off left unsaid, or at the very least, rephrased. My filter certainly does get clogged now and then! With that in mind, I do try and reread my comments before posting, my email before sending, and try to picture the person I’m sending to. To try and make sure that what I’ve typed would be something I say to their face. Sometimes I fail, but at least I try! :)
    This is a great topic of discussion. It’ll certainly make me more thoughtful of my online voice!

  2. Karen,

    Just last week, a liberal-minded pastor, who is a FB friend, posted about the usefulness of engaging in discussion via FB: is it condusive to authentic dialogue, or is it only for stating view points?

    When reading online articles, I quite often read the comments. Sadly, the discourse level of unmoderated comments is shamefully ignorant and generally rude.

    I’m teaching my first hybrid course this semester, and am pleased that in addition to the traditional face-to-face classroom setting and the online venue, I also see the students in pairs for performance testing. That’s when I really get to know them!

    I wonder, however, if the rudeness has always been present — and is now visible in a new venue? Or if there is any correlation to the current economic problems? Or to feelings of “my vote doesn’t count”? Does anyone measure America’s level of rudeness? Oh my!


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