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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

A book on manners...

You're like me.

I know you are. We're conversing, communicating, talking, aren't we? And you're here, reading this.

But, like me, you've noticed it? It may be that I am getting older. Maybe I am not as tolerant as I used to be? Or maybe I am just fed up with having to put up with rudeness? It is likely be the last one.

I am lucky, I get to "Moderate" a fantastic facebook group ( where books, authors,reader or anyone interested scifi and fantasy can get together and have a discussion. I've also got a few friends/links with other Facebook groups and Reddit - so I get to hear the stories, and get to be involved (sadly) in a few of them.

It begins, almost always, where one person has forgotten the most basic rule you hoped they were taught by their parents - be polite to people.

It really isn't difficult, in fact it is incredibly easy. Even a child can do it... in fact, most children master it without any problem - it is adults that seem to struggle the most.

Someone makes a comment and the person responding dives off the high board of anger and splashes into the swimming pool of rage before surfacing to spew hostility everywhere. The F-bombs drop, the aggression is clear in their words, you can imagine them behind their keyboards furiously typing away, venting their spleen to the world (well, those that read the posts), almost always convinced they are so right that other people's views have no meaning or basis in fact.

On Fantasy-Faction, a family friendly we hope, group we have a simple Be Excellent/Nice rule. Is it perfect, of course not! There are over 7,000 members who all bring their own views, baggage and history to the group. 99.9% post politely, get involved in discussions and sometimes, I'll admit, we let discussions run, even when passions are high; Women authors, LGBT fiction/character and Piracy seem to draw the most ire from people - and for me there is a good reason to let these run (within reason); those discussions need to be had.

You never change minds or change anything by shouting into a void/cupboard/paper bag. If you don't challenge those views then they stay embedded. It ain't always pretty, but change is hard for some people.

Anyway, getting off topic, the FF group has a rule, the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons group (I know, a geek... and proud) I joined has 13,000 members and whole list of rules which amount to "be polite" or the ever popular "don't be a dick", as does Reddit/r/fantasy which has someone near 210,000 posters/member.

It was the Reddit rules that drew my attention. Some people, and I can only assume adults, were arguing about how to be polite... arguing... about being polite... about what it actually meant? Could they call an author a "cockwomble" - no, of course not, and why would you need to ask?! Could you say you didn't enjoy an author's book - yes, of course you can, and you can even say why as long as you don't resort to swearing and insults. Yet we see this again and again across the internet. What has happened to us? Why do a vocal minority no longer understand respect, politeness and kindness? Why do adults need to have it explained to them? Why is sorry such a hard word?

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