Has incivility hit crisis levels? Ninety-five percent of Americans believe we have a problem with incivility, and 70 percent say it has risen crisis levels, according to new research. Worse yet, 54 percent expect the trend toward incivility to continue. Who is to blame? Politicians, the Internet, cell phones, the media, “kids today?”
The fourth annual Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate Research reveals that among Americans polled:
- we each deal with 2.4 acts of incivility every day
- reports of cyberbullying have increased threefold since 2011
- 26 percent of us have quit a job because of incivility in the workplace, up from 20 percent in 2011
- 43 percent of us expect to deal with some form of incivility within the next 24 hours
- 43 percent of us admit to acting uncivilly toward others
- 50 percent of us have ended a friendship or other relationship because of incivility
Who hasn’t felt the sting of obnoxious cell phone users?
- 76 percent say it’s not nice to speak loudly on a phone while in public
- 86 percent think it’s rude to use a phone during a meal
- 87 percent of us think it’s rude to use a phone while talking with someone else
Even though so many of us call this behavior rude, it does seem to be the new normal. Maybe it’s the “everybody else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I?” mentality.
Eighty-two percent of Americans, regardless of political party affiliation, believe incivility in government is harming our country’s future. Sixty-eight percent say the incivility of political life deters qualified people from going into public service. A third of us say we’ve lost a friendship due to uncivil expression of political views.
It appears we expect more of some people and give others a pass. When it comes to cursing:
- 72 percent call it uncivil
- 53 percent say it’s uncivil for teachers to curse
- 37 percent call it uncivil when politicians curse
- 12 percent think cursing by celebrities is uncivil
- 10 percent think cursing by sports figures is uncivil
Incivility touches just about every aspect of our lives. Eighty-one percent of us believe uncivil behavior leads to increasing violence in our society and that uncivil words provoke harmful deeds.
“Incivility is turning into a national epidemic and becoming the new normal in behavior,” says Pam Jenkins, president of Powell Tate.
Online incivility is rampant. About 70 percent of us believe the Internet encourages incivility. The study found:
- 39 percent of us have flagged or reported inappropriate postings or comments
- 48 percent of us have unfriended, blocked, or hidden someone online
“From the start, uncivil discourse has been an element of web-based culture and online discussions. As social media becomes mainstream, it’s not surprising to see the numbers on the rise,” says Chris Perry, global president of Digital at Weber Shandwick. “Enterprising businesses will figure out a way to separate uncivil from civil commentary, and as part, personalize conversation threads to deliver optimal value. The remarkable thing about the Internet is that it is the ultimate laboratory for problem-solving and ingenuity.”
Despite the fact that we are unhappy with our tendencies toward incivility, we aren’t calling people out on it. We block online connections, we transfer our children to different schools, we quit our jobs, and we end friendships rather than confront the behavior.
It seems that most of us blame our political leaders. They make a nice scapegoat, but there’s a lot more to it than that. No matter how others behave, or how widely accepted it becomes to be rude, we are each responsible for our own behavior and to hold others accountable for how they treat us.
Incivility is only the new normal if we allow it.
The 2013 online survey was conducted in May among 1,000 American adults. The margin of error is +/-2.6 percentage points. Source: PRNewswire/Weber Shandwick
Infographic: “Civility in America: By the Numbers” -Weber Shandwick
Post Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock