While its current definition implies courtesy and politeness, its roots go deeper:
Late Middle English: from Old French civilite, from Latin civilitas, from civilis ‘relating to citizens’. In early use the term denoted the state of being a citizen and hence good citizenship or orderly behavior.Oxford Languages
Civility isn’t a benefit of society, it’s the basis of society.
Civility has been sadly lacking lately, and there’s a level of animus inflaming online discourse that’s a little frightening to witness. I generally try to stay out of the fray; my interest lies not so much in proclaiming my beliefs (and therefore opening myself up to animosity), but more in trying to find a commonality in our shared human experiences. That being said, we’re all different in our approaches to life, to writing, to blogging, and that’s part of the wonderful diversity of humanity.
Anyone who puts their life online opens themselves up to critique and I accept that reality. It’s a price we must pay to inhabit this virtual space. Some people are not going to agree with what I say, or not like it. I would hope that anyone who visits this space feels free to express their disagreements, to have an open discourse. And if you just don’t like what I write, you’re totally under no obligation to read! No, really. Click away from this page! We’ve all got different tastes. I get it.
All that being said, I don’t really think “Suck it up, buttercup. Life goes on” is any way to start a conversation.
I’ve been a public figure long enough to know that there will always be haters – I’ve had some hurtful words thrown my way. And I know that, regardless of my intentions of kindness and openness, there will be those who don’t share my world view. It’s fine if you don’t. And, for the most part, I’ve learned not to take any of it personally.
So, reading the “buttercup” comment in response to a blog post (this was on a different social media platform, BTW) just made me sad. Not for me, but for the person who felt they needed to assert themselves through an act of hostility. Sad that strangers strive to anonymously hurt each other. Sad that a level of incivility has become the norm.
Please don’t take this post as a plea for sympathy – I’m a big girl. There are no hurt feelings. I’ve gone through more of this than I ever want to talk about. It’s just that I take these moments of unexpected meanness as a reminder of my responsibility, to my friends, my colleagues, my community – as a human – to do what I can to connect rather than divide, to show compassion in the face of antagonism. And I hope you do too.