With the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, America ushered in the era of political correctness. “Honest” Abe Lincoln and his impact on public life was swept away in favor of pandering to the whim of prevailing thought. Sensitivity became more important than integrity.
Morals were replaced with morés.
Even churches have felt the impact of the paradigm shift. Preachers are less likely to say anything from the pulpit that may be construed as offensive to society at large, or some sub-group of society in particular.
From PC to “Gotcha!”
Twenty years of political correctness, combined with instant access to information and a platform (The Internet in general and Social Media, in particular) that gives even the most anonymous of us a voice has led to a “Gotcha” society. Whether it is a presidential campaign, an athlete answering media questions, a teen posting a video on YouTube or a blogger giving his/her thoughts on a subject, the world is ready to parse every word and pounce, devour and destroy.
Whether it is Nike putting out a “Gold Digger” t-shirt—which the company says was to honor the accomplishments of the American female Olympians in London by using the term ironically, or Mitt Romney telling a story about his dog, or Joe Biden using “unchained” in an unfortunate manner, people are ready to rip the offender to shreds. Today’s consumers take the word “consume” to a whole new (nuclear) level.
With this pervasive mentality, every tweet is risky, every Facebook post a potential land mine that may blow to bits its producer.
Jobs are lost. People are painted with some ugly, broad brush and slapped with a detestable label.
The next time you read a controversial news story or a sports opinion piece, read the comments below the story. You may be shocked by the vitriol, the hatred, the crudeness.
It Only Hurts for A Little While
I guess the good news is that the collective attention span is so short that today’s red meat is tomorrow’s forgotten leftovers. They may hate you today, but by tomorrow, they will be ambivalent.
So, hang in there.