Are Gentlemen A Dying Breed?

If my grandfather was alive today, I wonder what he would think about the way people treat each other.

I watch the way politicians talk to each other, the way people shout at each other on Twitter and even how some people completely lose their marbles in person and can’t help but think he would be both amazed and disgusted.

Amazed by the fact that people could be so rude, and disgusted for obvious reasons.

If you spend any time watching what passes for “news” these days or reading your Twitter and Facebook feeds, you probably know what I mean. The vast majority of people just shout at people who disagree with them, rather than discussing things like gentlemen.

I don’t quite understand it. To me, discussing a topic with someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with me is a great way to get new insights and maybe even, gasp, learn something new.

If all you ever read are things that reinforce what you already think, and the only people you talk to agree with your point of view, it’s just an echo chamber where you’ll never expand your horizons.

And with companies like Google and Facebook tailoring what you see based on things they “think” you are interested in, it just goes around in circles.

If you find yourself constantly reading or listening to things that just back up what you already think – and especially if you don’t want to hear different opinions – here’s a challenge for you…

Over the next week or so, go out of your way to read new things and explore new opinions. Follow some people on Twitter or Facebook who you know hold different opinions. Subscribe to some new podcasts or watch the “other” guys’ news channel. Read a book or magazine that is targeted to the people you tend to disagree with.

And really pay attention to what they’re saying. Look beyond the words on the page or in your ears and try to understand where those people are coming from. See if you can find a nugget of truth somewhere in all that “wrong” information.

You probably aren’t going to change your opinion, nor would I expect you to. But you might just find that you understand those people you disagree with a little better, and come to realize that they think the way they do for a reason. Whether it’s right or wrong, they hold their convictions just as strongly as you do, for their own reasons.

If everyone in the world could understand that, it would go a long way to making everything a lot more civil.

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