on common decency…..

I had trouble sleeping last night after a little online incident.

I was reading a news item on facebook about an airline offering a new configuration of seating. Nothing particularly controversial, but it had one of those typical ‘click-baity’ type headlines – ‘you won’t want to fly again after you read this’. I’m always fascinated by the comments that people leave, so was reading through and noticed that one young lady had tagged her friend, who commenting with the following. (And I’ve dithered about including the actual comment, but I feel that it’s important in the context of this story, so apologies in advance for the offensive language.)

“Jew cunts. They can suck my balls. Fucking airbus.”

I had an actual PHYSICAL reaction to reading that. My stomach felt sick and I went all hot. Typing it out has made my hands shake. I sat for a little while to see what the reaction was, and was astounded to see….nothing. People were commenting, and completely ignoring this horrific statement. Those who know me well know that I’m not good at keeping my mouth shut, so I replied – fairly innocuously, with:

“I wonder what kind of life you lead to make you feel that it’s ok to use that kind of language”

The friend who originally tagged this young man replied very quickly with

“You must have a boring life to be the language police.”

My comment quickly gained likes, and a few other people commented after saying things like:

“Leigh-ann is obviously educated, unlike you”

I fired off one more comment before backing away,

“I am far from the language police. What I am, however, is an advocate for common decency and I speak up when I see it lacking.”

That comment also got quite a few likes, and soon afterwards, the original comment was deleted.

Who thinks it’s ok to use that kind of terminology though? In what sphere of society would you speak like that in a public forum?

The crux of it for me, however, was this. Until me, no-one spoke up. People ignored it. Now, I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a small town and when I was a teenager, I knew that if I were misbehaving in public, any of the adults around me would let me know that my behaviour was unacceptable. Why are we afraid of doing this now? We shake our heads and mutter to our friends about how poorly the ‘young people of today’ are acting, but we do nothing to censure them. How are they to know their boundaries if they are not reinforced?

And on a more global scale, why do we stand by and watch what we know to be wrong and say nothing. What I saw online was small, but I lay awake last night and realised that it was a symptom of society today – we want a perfect world, but we want someone else to make it happen for us.

We need to get involved, and it starts with small gestures. Speaking up gently when we see something wrong, setting the example for our children that we have to ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. We all hear stories and respond with the classic “I would have said….”, “if I was there, I would have….”, or “you should have…” but what do we actually do? Very little.

I realised last night that I do speak up when I don’t agree with something that’s happening in front of me, but is that enough? I don’t know. I’m having my ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ moment here, and suggesting that we all need to stand up against injustice, and affirming that I always will.



14 thoughts on “on common decency…..

  1. well done , completely agree with what you said. you never know, that person might have also stayed awake thinking about it too xx


  2. Funnily enough we had a similar conversation last night about people making rude and derogatory comments – so unnecessary!


    1. I know! My litmus is always “Would I say this if this person was standing right in front of me?” People tend to hide behind their screens and think that what they say online doesn’t count, but I think it shows what kind of people they are!


  3. Great article – we work so hard on common decency/morals with our four children – it’s a shame it’s the same across the world!


    1. I know! But I do wonder if these people from last night were just young and testing themselves. Our children will probably go through similar, no matter how hard I work on them know (although if I find them using language like that from last night, they wouldn’t do it twice!).


  4. I think a lot stems from how we are now judged in public for every action we take and possibly scrutenised or in some cases reported for every action we make, I for one agree with what you say, I have always spoken out about something if I feel strongly enough about it, it was the way I was raised, I will admit that since Moving to NZ it has ostracised me from certain people/groups and did me no favours in my previous employment and actually got me ostracised to the point of leaving. In some cases thats why people dont speak out – it has been their undoing previously. 9 times out of 10 speaking out for others generally gets a then abusive repsonse (on a blog or FB remark) for example I have noticed – good for you on your courage and raising your kids the right way 🙂


  5. I am one of those people who don’t say anything when they see others shitty behavior, not because it doesn’t irk me, because it does. But because people who hide behind their screens and bully or shame others, or just use filthy language like that are unlikely to give a shit or change their actions because I say anything, more likely they will come back with more filth. I really hate how certain news websites *cough* stuff *cough* have a whole host of these style of comments and they don’t appear to be moderated or deleted, meaning people think it’s ok to talk like that! Good on you for speaking your mind!


    1. I think you’re probably right that the people who make these comments are doing it for a reaction, and I just wonder what it would take for them to stop. I don’t think there’s any easy solution, and the psychology major in me is muttering something about extinction burst…basically the idea that a behaviour will get worse before it gets better. I don’t know! Is it better to speak up and say “I don’t think this is ok” and risk the situation inflaming, or to sit back and hope that ignoring it makes it go away. No easy answer!


  6. Totally with you on this Leigh-Ann. I’m a avid comment reader too. And it always amazes me! The kind of language used is far off. I feel it reflects their mind set, their values. I ignore the comments on public pages but if its happening on my Facebook timeline, I’m the first one to storm! You need to contain people..you need to show them that it’s not OK to post anything nasty that crosses their mind.


    1. I wonder if people realise what it says about them? Maybe it stems from watching too much trashy reality TV – we see people put in pressure-cooker situations and make entertainment out of watching them yell and scream at each other, Maybe that has crossed into real life and people play this kind of behaviour out? I prefer to approach situations a little more gently, but who knows if that has any effect.


  7. I often comment to correct a lack of respectful thought, but have found that sometimes the sender of the message is a troll and you don’t want to feed those ones, they never back down and they feed on the tears of the decent. That said, good for you. Kindness is cool. Respect is cool. Don’t let the uninitiated get you down!


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