Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The USA Today Bleats about Civility 

But doesn’t know what to do. It does, however, identify at least one of the enemies of civilized life, the notion of “keepin’ it real”, or “authentic”.

Otherwise known as, “I gotta be me”. No matter how big a jerk I am. Spelling and grammar optional; in today's world, style isn't defined by expressing yourself well, it's about combining the punctuation of ee cummings with the vocabulary of a rap star who's channeling Ozzie Osborne. .

This entire sorry state of affairs, has, like most foul things, it's roots in the indulgence of the '50s, and the resultant corruption of the '60s.

If the key values are “self actualization”, “self esteem”, and similar pop psychology nostrums, what do you expect?

Combined with our fear of “being judgmental”, and a ruthless conformity to peer pressure formerly confined to 7 th grade students, the boor – be it Rep. Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Serena Williams, - is celebrated for “authenticity”.

A significant part of this is related to our culture of youth worship. Since we've given up behaving like adults and dressing like adults, naturally we've degenerated into acting like children.

A few classic examples:

50 year old, mostly bald guy, sporting a grey ponytail. Who does he think he is, a samurai? Since he's usually potbellied as well, I would suspect not.

Similar 50 year old, with or without the ponytail, but sporting an earring. Nothing screams “moron” like a grown up man with an earring. Unless, of course, he's covered in tattoos.

Clergy with the effrontery to preach the Word of God at Divine Service dressed in a way that would have gotten them thrown out of a better class of bowling alley not so long ago.

The insistence on avoiding use of “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Miss.”, or even the somewhat emetic “Ms.” by otherwise identifiable adults in favor of first names, even for a) serving staff in restaurants and elsewhere; b) with people to which they've just been introduced, and c) children (at my age, identified as anyone under 30).