Lately I’ve been writing a lot about the negative behavior I’m seeing on social media and in news stories. Strangely enough, I haven’t really addressed the topic on this blog, and I should have because some of this behavior has come from someone who, in another person’s eyes, is some kind of leader.

anthony selonke vi
Geoff George via Compfight

In just the past 48 hours I read a story about a mother who decided to hire strippers for her son’s 16th birthday party & invited 80 guests, trying to hide things by papering the windows but not thinking that someone would let the word get out because they’d be uncomfortable with things.

There was the story of a man that was a vice president at some company who decided that he had the right to use a racial slur on a 19 month old baby on a plane and slap that child as well, then try to say it never happened, not knowing that the person who saw it & reported it was an FBI agent.

Finally, there’s the new senator who decided to make a name for himself by accusing someone up for confirmation of a presidential post of accepting money from foreign governments that are hostile to the United States, a move so brazen and bold that one of the leaders of his own party went upbraided him in the open for his behavior and accusations.

I’ve been writing about the behavior of people who comment on stories in the newspaper that are posted online, people who write vile comments on videos on YouTube or Instagram, and people who say all sorts of things on Facebook, things that I not only have never said, but if I did I certainly wouldn’t do it in public. I was taught that we try to show courtesy and restraint towards others, especially those older than us, unless they’ve crossed the line in some fashion towards us; none of that has been happening.

I keep wondering at what point did people start believing they were entitled to their bad behavior. When did it become okay in so many people’s minds that they could say such filthy things in front of their children, out at the mall, in social media, or worse for my purposes here, in the workplace? Just when did it become acceptable for leaders to use foul language in front of their employees, sometimes using it to verbally abuse an employee?

Then, at what point did people feel that they didn’t deserve to have to deal with the consequences of their actions? Why do they feel it’s not fair they get fired from their jobs (the VP did) or get arrested and taken to the police station (that mother did)? Why are people shocked when someone who didn’t like what they had to say comes back at them the same way, or with some kind of violence? When did common sense leave and people forgot that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s Third Law of Motion)?

In some fashion, people who don’t control their behavior will get some kind of reaction back. It can manifest itself in many ways, but it will be negative. Except in the heat of the moment and possibly the military (the jury’s still out on that one) there are very few positive things that have been achieved by abusive people in the modern world. There are always consequences eventually for bad behavior. There’s always going to be someone bigger, tougher, or meaner to deal with if you spark them off.

I’ve known of people who’ve been followed home because on the spur of the moment on the road they decided to flip the middle finger at the wrong person. Some lady once got out of her car to chastise my mother about something that she was actually doing right, and Mom leaned over to the glove compartment to act like she was reaching for a gun; the woman ran to her car and sped away. Mom was faking it but you just never know.

I guess I’m answering the question above then; no, people are not entitled to their behavior. If you think you have ultimate free speech, say something to the wrong person and see how well they respect your right to say anything you want. No one has to be disrespect others; it’s a choice. Choose the other way; encourage people to want to work for and with you. The results will always be better.

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