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To blame social media for the decline of manners in society today?

(37 Posts)
knossospalace Sat 07-Jan-17 09:59:32

I'm 32 so hardly looking back at the past with years sentimentality like an older person might. But...it does seem like people have far less manners/boundaries/morals today.

Examples include: the frequent use of expletives ('cunt' features on almost every thread I read on here) at the drop of hat online, bitchiness between adults on Facebook, forums, etc., the 'compensation culture' we have, blatant road rage...the list goes on!

I teach in secondary school and, ten years ago even, I could assure the pupils that the arguments and bullying they come across in school largely disappears in day to day life (I acknowledge DA and bullying in the workplace has always existed but I suppose I'm thinking more between peers). However, having witnessed seemingly commonplace examples online of arguments, 'oneupmanship', people being openly racist/xenophobic, I no longer feel that saying life gets easier when you get older is true. And I imagine young people see adults in their lives behaving in this way - surely this is damaging?

Although I love my job and actually think teenagers (I currently only teach teens) are great, I do worry about examples being set online. I also feel it's creeping into 'real life' where people are far more likely to argue in public/be heard swearing, etc.

Just three examples of pupils having few boundaries:

'Miss, do you know that some men pay fat women to sit in their face?' shock

'Can you wear a tighter top tomorrow so I can see your bump properly?'

'Yeah, but that was, like, last year.' (When I challenged a pupil who dropped into conversation that she was banned from a trip as she had called the teacher a 'slag' online!)

And I am a respected and liked teacher who has a good rapport with pupils. All of the above came from pupils in the highest set too.

What do you think?

PotatoVegetable Sat 07-Jan-17 10:10:23

Good rapport may be your failing.

Wickedstepmum67 Sat 07-Jan-17 10:11:26

I'm a largely unsentimental 'almost 50', so I grew up without social media, mobile phones or computers. From my recollections teenagers found some pretty inventive ways to be vile to one another and their teachers. I'd question your optimism that people don't bully peers as readily in adulthood, as office culture has shown me nothing so much as an adult playground in the past. I think social media and the 'instant' nature of electronic communication (and the relative anonymity) might be facilitating greater tolerance of things we would previously consider rude or unacceptable. My personal bugbears are people gazing at phones instead of the people they are with, and the level of foul language people routinely use in public or to children. I also really worry about the fact most kids are exposed to porn on line at far too young an age to form a balanced judgement about what they are looking at. However, I think humans have sadly always found creative ways to be vile with one another and there are probably obscene stone tablets in some ancient tomb if we could find them! So no, I don't think you are BU but we may be much more conscious of the inherent dark sides to our natures nowadays because of how often we are exposed to them and the speed with which they can be proliferated

wasonthelist Sat 07-Jan-17 10:14:08

The thing about being older is that it can be easier to avoid spending time with people you don't like.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Sat 07-Jan-17 10:17:41

I'm not sure what your 3 examples have to do with social media.

Sure I didn't suffer online bullying. I was punched, kicked, spat at, called slag (without the aid of a computer), had my things stolen and destroyed instead. It's changed, but I don't think it's worse.

knossospalace Sat 07-Jan-17 11:10:45

Wicked Thanks for the reply. I too agree that pornography exposure (both genders) and expectations is a huge issue.

knossospalace Sat 07-Jan-17 11:17:27

Milk I am asking if people have looser boundaries (hence the comments that I really don't think my generation - even the most vile - would have said to teachers!)

I too suffered physical and mental bullying and also had letters shoved through my door with vile content - all by my close friends at the time. But at least I could escape into my house/a book and not also be bullied or see negative stuff online.

knossospalace Sat 07-Jan-17 11:18:48

Milk Sorry - didn't finish the part after the bracket which should read

because of social media.

knossospalace Sat 07-Jan-17 11:20:07

Potato I don't agree. Silly comment.

LiviaDrusillaAugusta Sat 07-Jan-17 11:20:30

Oh the irony of using social media to moan about social media...

daisychain01 Sat 07-Jan-17 11:22:01

I no longer feel that saying life gets easier when you get older is true.

It is setting very unrealistic expectations if you had previously painted adult life as being "easier" to your students.

I would focus on instilling values such as empathy, courtesy and positivity to young people, rather than getting embroiled in all the "noise" that you have mentioned in your OP. You can't solve all the problems of the world, so do the best you can and don't try to "boil an ocean"

LiviaDrusillaAugusta Sat 07-Jan-17 11:22:18

Way before the internet I was bullied out of a job, had things physically thrown at me etc - online bullying is awful but it is no worse than physical bullying.

As for using the word cunt, that's something that we used way back in school

Magzmarsh Sat 07-Jan-17 11:23:48

Most of the awful behaviour I've seen on fb has been perpetrated by middle aged women. All the teens I have the pleasure of mixing with are pretty lovely and I work in a school environment so that's a lot so I'd have to disagree with you.

daisychain01 Sat 07-Jan-17 11:24:02

Let's face it, social media won't go away any time soon, so people of all ages just need to know how to use it positively rather than negatively.

If only they had a User Manual before issuing people with Social media.

LiviaDrusillaAugusta Sat 07-Jan-17 11:24:12

If you are telling students that life gets easier when you are older, then you shouldn't! That's totally unrealistic to let them think that once they have bills, bosses, families to look after etc, it's easier than going to school, having your food and home paid for and not even being responsible for yourself.

PuntasticUsername Sat 07-Jan-17 11:25:22

YABU to try and blame it on social media, or any other particular type of tech. People are people and, as PP have said, will always find ways to be vile to one another.

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers." - a quote often attributed to Socrates/Plato.

ilovesooty Sat 07-Jan-17 11:26:02

Your generation were my pupils at the end of my teaching career. They said far worse routinely to a range of teaching staff than your pupils said.

sirfredfredgeorge Sat 07-Jan-17 11:26:14

The words stuff, YABU, manners are not fixed, particularly with regards to the language bits (thankfully! it was perfectly good manners in the past to use racist or homophobic slurs)

You were probably simply wrong about the arguments and bullying disappearing in adult life. The difference is really that in adult life you can choose much more how and who you engage with so it's easier to insulate yourself through your choices.

Social media hasn't changed people, what it has done is made it easy to engage with more people. You can still escape into your house and books.

anotheronebitthedust Sat 07-Jan-17 11:26:26

think 'people being openly racist/xenophobic,' is a weird one to blame on social media - I think having 'No blacks' signs in hotels in the 1950s, being being socially ostracized for marrying outside of their ethnicity, tv shows like black and white minstrels, love they neighbour, etc, are about as openly racist as you can get. I think racism/sexism/etc today is by no means nonexistent but is far more insidious than overt.

Same with morals - if you had excellent 'morals' in 1950 you would have been judged for swearing in the street, but as a woman you would equally have been judged for: having sex before marriage, working post marriage, expecting your DH to do any housework, going to the pub alone, wearing anything shorter than knee length, not being white/Christian, etc.

In comparison, calling someone who's acting like a twat, a twat, is, to my mind, less damaging.

Agree social media/internet can have negative effects in some ways - young children's easy access to extreme porn, things like pro-anorexia website, and just the fact that there is no escape - at least if you were bullied in the 1980s you could go home and hide from it all, not be bombarded on facebook, instagram, twitter etc.

However there are also huge benefits - children teens today (whether they're gay, geeky, have aspergers, or whatever) who don't fit in in someway with the tiny minority of people their own age they are geographically closest to, can get to know people all over the world, with the same interests of them, can get support etc., and reassurance that they can have a better life. I can only imagine how valuable that could be.

I agree that it must be hard for younger people to grow up trying to work out what's 'appropriate' in 'real' life compared to 'online' though. It's hard enough for adults - I'm thinking of the man who got arrested for making a joke about blowing up that airport on twitter, for example.

GreatFuckability Sat 07-Jan-17 11:26:55

I don't think your basic premise that people have worse manners/thinks are worse is true. I think its just a very different world.

I remember lots of awful shitty bullying going on in my school, I knew far more openly racist, homophobic people when i was younger than I do now. I remember being really rude and inappropriate to teachers cos I thought I was hilarious (I was not. I was also top set in everything.).

PeachBellini123 Sat 07-Jan-17 11:44:04

I'm the same age as you OP and remember some disgusting things said to teachers...maybe I just went to a rougher school.

Also I grew up in East London so hearing those swear words was pretty common place...

I don't get how social media causes road rage? I think that's more to do with more drivers/cars on the road and the lack of infrastructure leading to delays etc (not that that excuses road rage at all).

corythatwas Sat 07-Jan-17 11:52:32

My dad was a teacher in the corporal punishment era. He said, while pupils were outwardly very respectful of their teachers (calling them Sir), there was a constant underground war going on, where things like tin tacks on a teacher's chair, mean anonymous letters, or trying to get a teacher into serious trouble were seen as perfectly legitimate things to do, because teachers weren't seen as people.

And this is a quotation from Goodbye, Mr Chips, the sentimental novel about a teacher looking back on his happy life at the idyllic public school. The date is c 1917 and the headteacher is speaking:

""You see how it is. Ralston filled the place up with young men--all very good, of course--but now most of them have joined up and the substitutes are pretty dreadful, on the whole. They poured ink down a man's neck in prep one night last week--silly fool--got hysterical. I have to take classes myself, take prep for fools like that, work till midnight every night, and get cold-shouldered as a slacker on top of everything. I can't
stand it much longer. If things don't improve next term I shall
have a breakdown."

"I do sympathize with you," Chips said."

You see the attitude? Chips sympathizes not because the breakdown in society makes the boys behave like animals, but because the war means the school has to put up with teachers who cannot control them. You can't stop the boys from pouring ink down your neck- silly fool! That was the attitude of the early 20th century. Yes, it's fiction, but it's based on what the author had experienced and the attitudes he expected his readers to understand.

I hardly think social media is to blame.

I was a supply teacher about the time when you would have been at school- and yes, I remember some pretty bad things said. But what I also remember- and would hope you remember- is the larger number of decent pupils who never called anyone a slag in their lives, who were always willing to lend a hand to support a struggling friend, who sometimes worked heroically to take care of struggling family members.
I hope you do see those pupils, too.

DailyFail1 Sat 07-Jan-17 12:02:54

I'm in my thirties too. Trust me kids today are generally much kinder to teachers than they were before social media, and there are far more consequences to bullying. For example a jewish teacher was effectively run out of the school by bullying kids who would nazi salute her and leave images of kids from gas chambers on her desk. Another teacher had her hair set on fire (thankfully another teacher was there and put it out). A diabetic teacher who kept his insulin on his desk had it stolen so he had no choice but to go home. The kids were horrors. I was horrifically bullied too.

Nowadays schools have anti-bullying awareness and policies. Kids who bully via social media would bully anyway, but now the bullied kids can go to the police/apply to change schools. Back in my day the expulsion policies were the same as they are now, but bullying victims had no right to change school in my area.

LiviaDrusillaAugusta Sat 07-Jan-17 12:10:59

I think we have a more childcentric society now as a reaction to the 'seen and not heard' era. I think in some ways it has gone too far (with people expecting their child to be 'respected' whilst said child doesn't have to respect anyone else), but like many of these issues, it will probably settle in years to come.

Social media is also literally a life saver in some cases

dollydaydream114 Sat 07-Jan-17 12:26:21

I think boundaries are changing. I don't think social media is the cause.

There have been huge shifts in social boundaries and expectations of kids' language and behaviour towards adults before. My grandparents couldn't believe what my parents could get away with as teenagers in the late 1950s, in comparison to what was expected of them in the 1920s.

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