Mean As The New Vogue

Bullying, teasing, taunting. It reached a fever pitch this week with the Australian DJ prank that resulted in the tragic death of a nurse at a hospital in London.

In that case it may have been less about mean, and more about outlandish behavior – in our information saturated world – how much noise does anyone have to make to get attention? It’s no longer enough to be good at what you do. In order to break in and hold your own in the world of media – you need to be meaner, noisier, sexier – it’s not just about getting attention it’s also about holding it. God forbid someone make a TV show about young people trying to get ahead by doing good, getting educated, being kind. Nope – it’s all about who can pull out another gal’s hair extensions. We don’t cover the news on people doing good, on issues that matter, but we do give extensive coverage to just plain nasty behavior. We can’t look away.

Fact is, as any parent or teacher will tell you, if you want a behavior to stop – ignore it. But if we keep heaping attention on the spoiled adults – who engage in stupid pranks, inappropriate behavior, and plain old nastiness – they are going to keep doing it. And laughing all the way to the bank.

Being a talk radio DJ often means trying to get and hold your audience at a time when the competition is fierce – and so they went there. And in so doing, destroyed many lives in the name of a prank.

But they feel like a very public symptom of a much bigger problem. When my kids are watching tween oriented TV – every other one liner out of the mouths of the tweens and teens on these shows is a harsh and snarky barb leveled at peers and adults. When I was a kid and Jan copped an attitude on the Brady Bunch that’s about as nasty as it got.

Whereas once upon a time meanness would catch my notice, it has become so endemic, that I am actually more startled by kindness. When I am faced with kindness, I fall over myself to reinforce it. The mean people will never benefit from feedback – so I typically ignore it, and when possible, avoid them.

I think in the quest for attention, in the culture of bigger is better – we have created a culture where everyone is behaving badly and rudely – and getting away with it. It’s like a preschool gone awry.

What can any of us do? Don’t take the bait. Kindness and civility can come back into fashion. The “Real” Housewives and senseless DJs of the world will come and go (I sincerely hope in 40 years we are not watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians and one day hearing about their geriatric dating struggles). And as the DJs showed us – that meanness may not be a flash in the pan event, but can destroy numerous lives forever.

Kind up everyone. Leave the snarkiness and the cruelty to the bullies who will never get it anyhow – and stop feeding their egos and wallets.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 at 9:17 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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