Is Incivility the New Normal? (Infographic)

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 countryís 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

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Karen P.
Karen P3 years ago

Like James T., I too am ashamed to admit I have been guilty of incivility on the net, namely youTube posts lately.
Sometimes they didn't start out that way, but when I have received nasty comments, I have fired them back. I don't like the way I feel for having been involved in these 'flame wars' and will no longer participate in them. I will continue to look at posts on youTube that interest me, but will no longer argue with people I don't know. It's all such a gigantic waste of time as well as making me feel childish and bad.

James Travers
James Travers4 years ago

Incivility on the Internet has most definitly increased to a problem level. I am ashamed to admit that I get caught up in it sometimes as well. Of course when we have political leaders being uncivil to each other as Joe Barton did shouting at a President in a State of the Union address, it's difficult to condemn the average citizen for it.
The part which concerns me is that incivility almost always leads to violence.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


B Jackson
BJ J4 years ago

Seems people have become extremely rude past 10-20 yrs.

Autumn Perrotta
Autumn Perrotta4 years ago

Thank you for this article

Lindsey O.
Lindsey O4 years ago

The article's right - each person is responsible for her own behavior.

I'm quite fond of Dr. Lecter's manner of dealing with the uncivil among us: Eat the Rude!

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

People need to surround themselves with animals---they're furry miracles! Thanks

'Great White' Earth Being
'Great White' 4 years ago




Genoveva M.
Genoveva M M4 years ago

Thanks for this article

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thank you for sharing