I cannot but lament the moral void into which the world seems to be falling. Political intrigue. Weaponised social media. A new definition of ‘facts’ based not on empirical reality but on personal need. And it shows. I think everyday behaviour’s deteriorating, likely worldwide – and certainly around me.
I worry about a loss of moral core in society, a loss of a sense of tolerance and care for each other. These days, it seems, going out for an hour or two is invitation to have burglars strip the place (as happened to some people I know this week). Or people treat others as less than human, apparently for existing or – often – not responding as expected. It happened to me the other week when I was walking past the national cenotaph in Wellington the other week, deeply wrapped in my own thoughts, and became vaguely aware of somebody screaming in anger nearby.
When I stopped to look I realised I was the target of the hate – a dozen yards or so away somebody behind me had stopped and turned to deliver an absolutely hysterical barrage of abuse at me. It turned out – as far as I could tell through the apocalyptic screaming – that they had tried to stop me to ask directions, and how dare I not acknowledge them. Fact was that I hadn’t even registered somebody had passed by, let alone heard them. To them this was apparently a war crime that made me less than human and thus a target for all the rage and abuse they could muster. It seemed somehow out of proportion with just walking past somebody.
This joins a similar incident in a supermarket, a while back, where my trolley accidentally touched somebody else’s, with the same result from the other shopper.
Maybe I should pay a bit more attention to my surroundings, but on the other hand, is everybody out there sitting on a hair-trigger in which the slightest action (real or imagined) by those around them provokes instant judgement and a violent and utterly disproportionate eruption of rage and hate, all poured with viciously explosive force at whoever happened to trigger them?
Surely it should be possible to walk quietly down the road without having people explode out of nowhere at you, merely because you walked past them without reacting the way the secret code in their heads demanded? Or to accidentally bump somebody’s supermarket trolley without them behaving as if you’d just delivered a mortal personal insult that must be atoned for, or else.
I’m not the only one to have this sort of experience, of course, and maybe I’m lucky. Nobody’s physically attacked me yet – unlike the folk in Hastings the other week who were sitting on their own front door step quietly minding their own business, were spoken to over the front fence by a couple of passers-by – and when they didn’t answer with whatever the passers-by imagined should be said, were attacked with axes.
Where is society going? Is this where two generations of exaltation of self and the me-generation has left us? And how far has social media, with its ability to facilitate abuse without risk or penalty, enabled such an apparent loss of moral compass?
Thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2018