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What Is Our Responsibility in the Rise of Shame Nation?

Survey: 93 percent of Americans believe our nation is in a civility crisis.

Source: Pixabay

It was 10 year-old Lonnie Chavis, the young actor that plays on the hit show This Is Us, that stole the headlines with his message to online trolls after being bullied on Instagram regarding his teeth.

“To all the trolls who have been trolling in my comments, talking about my gap, I could get my gap fixed. Braces can fix this, but like, can you fix your heart, though?"

He continued this message to remind people that bullying has deadly consequences:

“There are kids out there killing themselves just because of y’all hating and trolling and doing just crazy stuff. I mean, it’s stupid,” he said. “Is it fun? No. It hurts people. People kill themselves, and you’re the one who’s making them do it. Fix your heart, though. For real.”

In a recent Civility in America 2018 survey by Weber Shandwick, the majority (84 percent) of Americans have personally experienced incivility while 93 percent of us believe our nation has a civility crisis.

Dr. Michele Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed In An All About Me World, shares in her research that empathy has declined in teens over the last three decades by 40 percent while narcissism has risen by 58 percent.

As it pertains to online bullying and shaming Dr. Borba says,“Depersonalization is what’s happening,” she continues, “In a lot of these [cybershaming] cases, the person is hundreds of miles away; you’ll never be face-to-face. It becomes an easy click.”

Sadly, it's not only the kids and teens that are engaging in digital conflict. The Civility in America survey said that incivility online among adults has increased dramatically since 2016.

It's hard to ignore the incredible levels of incivility coming from the leader of the land, as well as people that are ready to aim and shame their smartphones at civilians without any thought of the consequences of how it can impact someone's life.

It brings up the obvious question of who are the role models in today's society and how can we improve our own behavior towards other's.

Maybe it's learning from young people like Lonnie Chavis.

Or taking the lead from celebrities like P!NK and Lady Gaga who use their voices and platforms to end online hate and harassment.

We need to commend all these people (celebrities) who step-up and speak-out against cruelty, especially since they are usually the ones that are targeted the most. They could easily let their handlers deal with it and do nothing.

It's time for all Americans to take back this shame nation and build a civil one. You don't have to be a celebrity to have a voice or build a platform of kindness and compassion in your home or community.

5 ways anyone can be an upstander:

1. Never perpetuate hate or fake news. Don't forward, like, or retweet distasteful comments or images.

2. Report and flag abusive, mean, hateful content to the social platform.

3. Reach out to someone that is struggling. Private message them, even if it's only a virtual hug. Let them know you are there for them.

4. Kindness is contagious. Talk about it with your kids. Read headlines of people doing good things for other people — then get involved.

5. Lead by example not only for your children, but for your colleagues, friends, and family.


Civility in America 2018, Weber Shandwick

Scheff, Sue: (excerpt) Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017)

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