Larry Mantle |

Is the Rise in Uncivil Behavior Primarily Narcissism?




That was one of the questions I posed this morning on our segment devoted to the rude behavior of Joe Wilson, Serena Williams, and Kanye West. In each case it seems the person's impulse control was overridden by a sense of entitlement and grandiosity. In their minds, it really was all about themselves.

However, I thought one of the best calls this morning was from a listener who opined that our new blogging culture was partly responsible. It's true that when we post a comment, we don't have to stand behind it and defend it in the same physical space with someone who has a different opinion. I read much more inflammatory comments on blogs than I ever hear in everyday conversation. It's easy to objectify the people reading our posts and that allows us to stay within our own safe space, without the same level of emotional engagement we would have in a face-to-face debate.

At their best, blogs provide much broader and more thorough debates on a wider range of topics than we ever could have had in the past. I've learned so much from the sharp online commentary on almost every website I visit. However, one also has to wade through a lot of hyper-emotionalism and thoughtless commentary to get to the nuggets.

What do you think about the quality of political debate we hear and read today? Do you think we're generally ruder and more commonly dismiss those with whom we disagree? Or, do you see our culture as historically consistent in its level of public vitriol and self-rightousness?