More and more people are turning out to be rude, offensive, intolerant, and sometimes verbally violent in discussion forums and social networking sites across the Internet. The incivility is worrisome.
What is our problem? Why are more of us becoming impolite, discourteous? Why do we ridicule, fear, distrust, and condemn others because of their ethnicity, culture, religion, or politics? Why do we unreasonably brand those we disagree with us as traitors, terrorists, infidels, or other so-and-sos? Why and how have we become so sure of ourselves? Why and how have we become so uncivilized?
We say it’s not us who’re uncivil – it’s the other folk that’s intolerant and impolite! But then, again, why?
The more successful people on earth are reasonable, fair, respectful of others, and self-confident – people who view others’ politics, culture, and religion with respect and tolerance. On the other hand, the well-known losers on earth are those that hate, disparage, belittle, and abuse people who are not their kind.
There are people and things in life that we have reason to fear, distrust and condemn – such as those that pose real threats to our very being or our freedom. But we have no reason to distrust or condemn people and their ideas simply because they are different from ours or inconsistent with our values.
Psychologists have defined those who hate and fear others as having a “paranoid personality.” A paranoid person has a deep-seated distrust and suspicion of others, and tends to hold other people’s motives suspect. A paranoid person will assume that those who are of a different culture, religion, or politic are out to exploit, harm, or deceive – and no evidence to the contrary can change their thinking.
Psychologists explain that it is normal for people to have certain degrees of paranoia (such as a fear of losing a job or a relationship), but those with a paranoid personality take their fear to extremes for no logical reason. People with the paranoid personality disorder can never be gotten along with and have difficulty maintaining friendships or close relationships.
A paranoid person will be argumentative, complaining, hostile, and aloof. A paranoid person will manifest extreme vigilance for anything they fear – leading to hostile actions.
A paranoid person cannot accept criticism, and will defend with violence and aggression beliefs that cannot be defended with facts.
As long as we have to be neighbors and live on the same planet, let’s be nice to each other. It doesn’t pay to be otherwise.