Mean Is the New Black

mean-people-mean-8r90w9Last night I was reading an issue of Entertainment Weekly from a few weeks ago and was astounded by how venomous the reviews in it were.

I’m no stranger to reviews that go for the throat. Spend any time on Goodreads or Amazon, and you’ll find a staggering number of 3-star and lower reviews which appear to have been written purely for entertainment—complete with GIFs for giggles. I was surprised at EW, though. Their reviews are written by journalists, people who have been trained to be professional. I don’t remember their reviews being so brutal during my childhood, or even during my early adulthood. Once upon a time, it was possible to state your opinion in a civil manner.

We’re living in an age of mean.

Leave a comment on any public post on Facebook, and you won’t have to wait long before the trolls come marching in. National or international news that should be a sensitive topic is rife with off-color jokes and other users trying to out-mean each other. It wasn’t long ago that the #FreeKesha hashtag on Twitter was taken over by nasty men and even other women, all working hard to belittle the people defending Kesha. Most of those people under attack were sexual assault victims.

It’s not even limited to the digital world.

Almost every interaction I have face to face with other people results in either me getting put down or me witnessing someone else being verbally bloodied. Take note: It’s now okay to call your wife fat after she delivers your baby, make fun of someone for being vegan when they actually eat meat, orally rip apart someone’s toes for a laugh from your friends, and openly comment on a disabled person’s medical issues or appearance.

Those things were not okay when I was growing up, but apparently they’re widely acceptable now.

Even NPR suspects that we may be socially decomposing. Over 66% of NPR listeners admitted that we’re getting meaner. I have to wonder if it’s because we’re all so stressed. The economy has tanked and violent crimes appear to be increasing. The world itself is an ugly place. The media blames social media for our lack of social skills these days, but there seem to be at least a handful of us left who remember our manners.

I can see it in the gentlemen who hold the door for me when I’m out with my cane, or the readers who send me thank you cards after receiving their prizes from giveaways. Maybe if we all tried to be a little nicer, the world would be a bit brighter.

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Elizabeth Barone

Elizabeth Barone is an American novelist who writes contemporary romance and suspense starring strong belles who chose a different path. Her debut novel Sade on the Wall was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She is the author of the South of Forever series and several other books. When not writing, Elizabeth is very busy getting her latest fix of Yankee Candle, spicy Doritos chips, or whatever TV show she’s currently binging. Elizabeth lives in northwestern Connecticut with her husband, a feisty little cat, and too many books.

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