Practicing Civility: One Comment at a Time

Updated: Apr 3

The ability to effectively communicate is a skill that requires intention and practice. When we were young, we learned to read facial expressions, emotions, routines, and language. With the endless stream of biased media snippets and our virulent social media voice, we are sliding down a hill of uncivilized interaction, dragging those around us into a downward spiral. It gives new meaning to the nursery rhyme: Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

Now that I have announced my candidacy for Utah Senate, I have seen reprehensible social media interaction by means of…. comments. I wonder if someday the word “comments” will be a scourge and byword that represents the vitriol of the wolf within that some have fed rather than trained.

I believe we can do better. Thus, I offer some suggestions. While this list is far from complete, perhaps it will reach one person that will reach one person and grow in exponential strength that can create a movement. A movement towards civility.

1. Venom is not the language of a true moral high ground. While morals/values produce valid passions, communicating with other humans through name calling, condemnation, profanity, accusations, passive aggression, and any other venomous attack is the opposite of defending a moral principle. You are hurting your cause rather than helping it! These hot topics include BOTH SIDES of the issues such as: abortion, politicians, political ideology, gun rights, taxation, freedom, marijuana, and religion.

2. Truth seeking is the answer and it must start with YOU. Practice introspection. Are you the problem? Every time that you make an attacking comment, you have hurt your cause. You have fallen down and "broke" your crown….and likely pulled others down in the process. Is there a better way to communicate your belief system or opinion?

3. Learn the art of persuasion. Learn more about why your passion is important. Learn how it can help the person on the opposite side. And, mostly learn WHY the opposite side believes the way that they do. Not the angry hyperbole that they are “evil” but really seek to know why they think the way that they do. True understanding about a topic requires looking at it from all angles.

4. Check your emotions before you comment. If you are commenting because you feel defensive, angry, hatred, spiteful, contempt, or arrogance WAIT before you comment. Think about the message of persuasion that you really want to convey rather than an emotional reaction.

5. Patience matters. We each learn new things in our own time. Be patient with those still needing to learn.

I believe we can turn the tide of incivility. We can get up with our broken crowns and march right back up the hill to be nourished with the goodness of water. And of course, I encourage you to offer your suggestions…in the comments.


© 2020 by Marci Green Campbell for Utah Senate