I read a post on social media recently. The author seemed to be making the point that he was tired of persons who complained that people today were more uncaring than those in yesteryear particularly in the use of technology, i.e., smart phones and private telephone conversations in public. He is certainly correct that human nature has not changed. But I am not sure how he meant that. To be gracious, perhaps he meant that given human nature we are uncaring to the degree that we have more, or less, means to be uncaring, that is, available technological tools to be uncivil or rude.

But I think the issue is broader than that. It is not merely the opportunity to use available technical tools to be disruptive, to seem always to be so involved with communication that its unavailability it tantamount to loss of life. There is a cultural difference. In the not too-distant yesteryear there was a respect and a norm about public behavior, a standard of acceptable norms that infused relationships with civility. Absence of these norms meant something…it meant that a person was ill-bred or deliberately non-caring. I don’t think that is the accepted standard of today.

People are by nature uncivilized and have to be taught societal norms for a culture to function. Once the undergirding of those norms is discarded…the reasons for civil discourse are done away with…then incivility results. (This must seem strange to someone who has not experienced a prior cultural norm absent our present technology.) And I am aware that new norms replace those that are discarded. But I am also saying that replaced normative values in this day and age when technological achievements allow us to barrage others in public are a segue to less and less considerateness for others and an eroding loss of civility in society in general.

Take a few examples: The noisy customer on his/her phone in line; the car at a stop light blaring its unwanted noise; the restaurant patron who cannot wait to tell the world of the latest gossip; the ever-present inattentive passerby with head phones on full; the train operator/pilot/car driver who often text to the dismay of many families left with death to attend to by these careless acts. Technological advancement…yes! Civility…absolutely not!