Each year, we find ourselves asking more and more, "What ever happened to civility?"
We receive a lot of calls and e-mails from viewers here at WECT, and it seems that more and more often people are saying or writing rude and crude things they'd never have the courage to communicate face-to-face.
And maybe that's part of the problem, the impersonal nature of communications these days - voicemail, automated switchboards, e-mail; some people feel they can say whatever they want without consequences.
People have called our receptionists and the folks in the newsroom upset by program changes or news stories and said some of the foulest things you can imagine. I've received voicemails and e-mails that would cause us to be fined by the FCC if we aired them for you.
And it's not just here, you can see it in the "letters to the editor" in newspapers all over the country, hear it every day on talk radio, and I'm sure there are millions of examples in public officials' e-mail inboxes every day.
Why do people think it's okay to resort to name-calling and defamatory remarks when they disagree with something?
Merriam-Webster defines civility as "civilized conduct; especially courtesy and politeness." Stephen L. Carter, a Yale University law professor and author says, "Teaching civility is an obligation of the family," and goes on to say that, "Civility is the sum of all the sacrifices that we make for the sake of living together."
It all starts with respectful interpersonal communication, even when we choose to disagree.