There's a trend playing out.
One that's growing in momentum and boldness. One that is setting a dangerous precedent and showing one of the uglier facets of our society.
It's this—people are operating under the concept of: "Don't like the message? Launch a personal attack on the messenger!"
There is a pervasive ideology that belittling another human, throwing stones so to speak, is preferable to actually examining your own believes or improving your own argument. That the one who is loudest or meanest wins.
Greta, a 16-year old girl, has dedicated herself to climate change research. She is passionate and focused and articulate. She is making valid points and asking heavy questions on a global stage. As free-thinking autonomous beings, disagreeing is an option. Using her research as catalysts for our own is also an option. But that's not the route many people are taking. They're discrediting her because of her age, ridiculing her and shaming her for being "mentally ill."
People don't like her message and, because narcissism is in style, they launch hate-filled, deflective attacks on the messenger. Even when the messenger is a young girl.
See, when bullies are empowered, deflection becomes acceptable.
Locally, nationally, globally, we see people asking questions, standing up for what they believe in and confronting injustices.
We see those same people knocked down, ridiculed, called liars.
Again and again we see people lash out when their views, or their authority, are challenged. When they hear views that make them uncomfortable, their goal is not to become better informed or engage in civil discourse, it's to eviscerate the person with whom they disagree.
When narcissists are emboldened it becomes acceptable to respond to science, logic, and reason with pettiness and hate.
We see this trend play out in another, equally as disturbing, way. It's a twisted sort of elitism when people are so committed to being the most-right that they lash out at anyone they see as threatening their pedestal. As if sharing a spotlight makes it less bright. To say someone is right, is not to say you are wrong. Both can exist. And yet, when someone is receiving due praise, we see people swooping in to distract and deflect and attack—because sole attention is not on them and their rightness.
We seem to have forgotten in this era of ego that we can clap for each other, we can celebrate teach other's milestones and that, ultimately, not everything is about us.
While hostile reactions have become our knee-jerk reactions, I know we can do better. I know that we all have a capacity for kindness. I know that we are all capable of self-reflection and, at the very least operating under the adage our mothers taught us and staying silent if we don’t have anything nice to say.
Cydney Baron is the editor of the Claremore Daily Progress.