Where has human decency gone?

February 17, 2017

Where has human decency gone? Did it give up the good fight, wave the white flag in surrender, and shuffle off into the dark with its kindred spirit the moral compass. Did it depart with the dawn of the tech age? Is it being held hostage by social media? Was it beaten to death by the selfie stick?

When did we become so out of touch with our own behavior; with such insensitivity to those around us; and so oblivious to our impact on the social landscape? If we can find the answer to that and we just might uncover where human decency is hiding.

Recently our social media feeds have been serving up quite the meal in how not to behave as a human. Everything from the truly stomach churning images of our youth taking selfies at holocaust memorial sites; to the brutal bullying, live recording (and sharing) of attacks on disabled teens; to the group of middle schoolers who anticipated, followed and then recorded a schoolyard fight instead of informing a responsible adult. And that doesn’t scratch the tip of the iceberg.

What we are experiencing is an endless of stream of videos, posts, photo sharing, likes, and ‘reactions’ in a frenzied assault of “look at me” syndrome – for all the wrong reasons. Where is my “take this down” button, my “who are you?” button, my “show some respect” button, or my “are you a robot?” button…because no human should behave the way you are right now.

Have we become a society that measures our value in terms of likes and followers, and not the joy, kindness, spirit and respect we bring to the world? Have we become so lost in an alternate reality; editing, filtering and making our lives appear far more colorful than they really are, so that we can no longer be happy living in the moment? Has ‘presence’ become a thing of the past?

Becoming numb to the real world is a dangerous digression. A rabbit hole of false realities, disingenuous friendships, and the pursuit of a perfect life, one we know is impossible to achieve and sustain. And it may just point to why we are experiencing anxiety and depression in epic proportions. We are the generation who has never experienced true suffering, yet we are unhappier than our ancestors. Are our expectations so high that we can never reach the summit of fulfillment? Have we become so wrapped up in our own personal bubble of ‘need’ that we can’t stop and be grateful for everything we have?

We know that human decency stems from gratitude; the ability to be thankful for the here and now, to appreciate what we have and to be cognoscente of the needs of others. To give back, to help out, to see the greatness of mankind as something bigger than ourselves. That’s what being a decent human being is all about and it’s time to get back to basics. It’s time to start modeling this behavior ourselves and teaching our kids what being a truly great human really looks like. Not the smartest, most accomplished, most popular person; but the one who shows kindness, compassion, empathy and respect. The one who has boundaries and self-regulation; who understands their social footprint and behaves accordingly.

So what can we do:

  • Teach our children to respect their surroundings – if this is a holocaust memorial then it deserves silent contemplation and reflection, not a selfie.
  • Teach that the internet never forgets and delete is never delete.
  • Teach to live in the moment and not in post-production editing.
  • Teach that every action has a reaction and consider the impact of behavior on others.
  • Teach that self-worth is more than the number of likes and followers. This is not your child’s value.
  • Put some boundaries in place to regulate behavior.
  • Regulate your own behavior and be a great role model.
  • Teach respect, kindness, compassion, empathy and gratitude.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no – not everything is a negotiation.

Please come back human decency, we’ve missed you!