Have honor, decency and integrity suffered death by memes?

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pay our final respects to honor, decency and integrity in American culture.

These moral imperatives have been ill for a long time, reaching a rapid decline during what has become known as the Presidential Campaign of 2016 and finally succumbing with the Trump Inauguration. The candidates and their campaigns were merely symptoms of a more widespread and deadly epidemic.

Although morality has been debated as long as man has been able to throw words with the cold-hearted bluntness of well-aimed stones, there has always been a sense of decorum and lines that simply were not crossed. It has been widely known, understood and accepted that there were certain things one did not say or do in public. You didn’t lie, you didn’t swear and you respected the opinions of others.

My challenge to you would be to go to your favorite social media site (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever) and without scrolling more than one swipe see if you can get through every posting without finding a single swear word, lie or insult. I just now tried it on my Facebook page and the first thing I saw was a humorous jab at vegetarians (insult).

I’m going to pick on Facebook here because it is the largest and most influential social media site and also the one I know best. I currently have about 750 friends on Facebook. During the presidential campaign last year I bet I blocked at least a third of them from my feed. It had absolutely nothing to do with their politics or their candidate of choice. It had everything to do with their character.

The number one reason I block anyone from my Facebook feed is for vulgarity. If you cannot converse without using swear words, then I probably don’t want to have a conversation with you. That doesn’t mean I don’t like you or that I think I’m too good for you. It means I have better things to do and fill my mind with than your garbage.

The garbage doesn’t stop with vulgarities. The second reason I blocked people during the campaign was for blatant meanness and lies. They generally manifested themselves in political memes. If people got in the habit of sharing hateful things, I blocked them. I really don’t want or need that kind of negativity in my life.

The third reason I blocked friends on Facebook was for indecency. If someone consistently posted or shared things of a sexual nature, I blocked the poster and often reported the content. If that makes me prude, so be it. I’m a firm believer that anything of a sexual nature should be kept between a husband and wife. I’m also raising teenage boys and I certainly don’t want them to think I condone the objectification of women because of what they see on my computer.

Getting back to my original point, I honestly feel that society has pushed the free speech envelope so far to the extreme that a tidal wave of consequences is about to wash over us. We still have libel and slander laws in this land and it’s only a matter of time before someone has the backbone to use them. Whether anyone does or not, continuing on the course we are on will only set us up for unbridled anarchy where anyone says and does whatever they want because there are no consequences.

It is not only online but in real life as well. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why Sugar Land finally passed an ordinance banning drivers from using cell phones and other handheld devices. People don’t think laws apply to them or that their actions have an impact on others.

Just this weekend I took my wife to see a movie. Despite numerous messages asking patrons to silence their cell phones, the person sitting next to me and nearly everyone else down the row frequently checked their cell phones. When I finally asked the person next to me to shut it off, she gave me a terse reply about needing to make sure her kid was OK. I’m sorry, but if you can’t leave your kid for two hours then you probably don’t need to be in a theater interrupting everyone else. Maybe you should be with your kid.

Sorry, I got sidetracked, but it makes my point. People have become incredibly self-centered and it shows by how they behave in public and by what they post online. Socially, our moral imperatives are suffering death by meme. (For those who don’t know what a meme is, it is basically a picture or video with a message printed on it.) Most are meant to be funny but increasingly they are hurtful and derogatory. During the presidential campaign they became violently cruel.

I couldn’t tell you if the rhetoric has died down or not, because I have blocked so much of it from my social media feeds. At least for me Facebook is slowly becoming more social in a friendly way. At the rate things are going, I may reach the end of this battle with few friends on Facebook, but at least I will know they are true friends. And none of us will be attending the funeral for honor, decency and integrity because we will have kept the faith and stayed strong against the overwhelming adversity of a culture that would rather play dirty than stay clean.

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