Wednesday, 27 April 2016
When I was a kid, rudeness never went much further than telling someone to get lost, take a running jump, mind their own business, keep their nose out of it. The blunt swearwords of today like fuck, cunt, prick, arse-licker, were seldom heard and "bloody fool" or "blithering idiot" were the height of disdain.
But now rudeness has morphed into something utterly hideous. It's standard practice for people to face death threats, rape threats, grotesque sexual fantasies, savage attacks on every aspect of their clothing and appearance, the hope that they'll get terminal cancer or some nasty disease, and the most extreme abuse imaginable.
I don't know why people feel the need for such ferocious attacks, but they've turned public discourse into something horrific, a sort of verbal bloodbath that leaves its victims reeling. The familiar decent, considerate Brit of yesterday seems increasingly scarce, elbowed out by the spitting, snarling Brit of the Twittersphere.
I long for a return to that innocent era when people kept their insults within sensible limits, didn't set out deliberately to hurt and distress, but merely wished to show disapproval without causing too much offence.
I can't imagine sending a death threat to anyone - or anything half as cruel. In fact I seldom insult anybody, even in the mildest terms, as I know how hurtful the slightest put-down can be. I can only be insulting if I'm furiously angry, and that's not often.
Simple rudeness has turned into an ugly, slavering monster.