The Culture of Incivility!

Incivility culture

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
                                                    Volume 17, Number 9
There is a huge incivility problem in the United States. Most people believe that it is getting worse fueled by social media, the news media, and political polarization. A recent study by Weber Shandwick shows that more than 50% of Americans expect the level of incivility to decline even further in the near future. With midterm elections approaching, it is almost a given that incivility not only among politicians but amongst everyday people will get worse.

Uncivil behaviors lead to anger, anxiety, depression, relationship conflicts and poor job performance. But each of us can change this path by making efforts to be civil to each other, encouraging others to be civil, and committing to one act of civility regularly.

Our September e-Letter is about The Culture of Incivility. Dr. Kimmel’s blog is about Niagara Falls and can be found here.

We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our e-Letters and for the positive and compassionate comments we have received.

The Culture of Incivility!

                                                   (Photo by Mart-Production)

Since our society has become polarized, it seems like we either belong to one side or another. Having your own beliefs is okay but when the discourse becomes uncivil, tempers and angry behaviors become common.

Uncivil words as well as behaviors are quite widespread. People demanding what they want and getting large audiences to agree with them can be seen nightly on the news.


  • have you been insulted or experienced rude and disrespectful behavior?
  • has a group that you have been affiliated with been verbally attacked or threatened because it does not share the same views as another group?
  • have you watched news program and the print media promote their viewpoints to influence you at the cost of unbiased journalism?
  • do you read social media posts from friends and others that make derogatory comments about other people?
  • have your political beliefs caused you to lose friends, relatives, or neighbors because you don’t agree?
    Uncivil behaviors spread like viruses and infect others. People demanding what they want regardless of what is best for our society has taken hold in our very connected world and is promoted by tweeting, retweeting, posting, etc.

    While everyone has a right to be heard, too many people have promoted uncivil discourse. How many times have you heard the “F word” said in a day without you batting an eye?

    We get desensitized and feel powerless. What was once unacceptable such as name calling, disturbing others in public places, the use of vulgar language, doesn’t even raise an eyebrow anymore. One group’s protest becomes more important than what is good for the entire society.

    It is a selfishness where the belief is that mine is more important than yours. But then this becomes the norm and where do we go from there? How do we ever get respect and consideration for others back as a society value?

    Uncivil behaviors can lead to increased stress and anger, increased health problems, decreased work productivity, aggressive behaviors including road rage, vandalism, and the end of friendships/relationships.

    We become uncivil when we fail at communication. We become uncivil when we fail at understanding that we need each other to make society work. We become uncivil when we fail to do good unto others.

    If we cannot respect and listen to others, then society will continue to deteriorate.

    It is up to us to be civil in the face of incivility.

    We need to:

  • reject uncivil behaviors and uncivil people
  • practice respect and caring for others especially with those whom we disagree
  • communicate and try to listen to another’s point of view even when we disagree
  • practice stress reduction when we feel angry or frustrated by the close-mindedness of an uncivil person
  • model positive, respectful, and appreciative behaviors but not let ourselves get bullied
  • consider that the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few
    We offer the following information on an uncivil culture:

    I’m accustomed to Internet forums where rudeness and incivility are the rule, where too many people seem to take pride in their insults… Bryan Burrough


    • Incivility is a term used to describe words and behaviors that are:
    • lacking in respect and good manners
    • rude and threatening
    • polarizing
    • destructive to the core of society’s values
    • Rudeness and disrespect for others are the incivility norm; usually unacceptable language and actions become common and acceptable
    • Underlying incivility is an inability to communicate between people due to threats, an intention to disrupt, ignorance, anger, fear, and loyalty to some, often fringe, group’s beliefs
    • Incivility, like a virus, spreads quickly and easily especially through social media
    • It can end relationships and energize angry words and behaviors towards others
    • It also can polarize normally calm people into unthinking and blindly accepting the words and actions of a group leader
    • A 2016 study by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate entitled Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey found:
    • 75% of Americans believe that incivility has risen to crisis levels
    • 84% have personally experienced incivility
    • 25% have experienced incivility or cyberbullying online
    • 59% stopped paying attention to politics because of incivility
    • 75% blame politicians, 69% blame social media and the internet, and 59% blame the media for the increase in incivility
    • The average number of times Americans experience incivility in a week is 6.7
    • Being a victim or just seeing incivility can create a “cognitive fog” resulting in reduced attention, information processing, and problem-solving abilities
    • Uncivil behaviors can lead to increased stress and anger, increased health problems, decreased work productivity, aggressive behaviors, vandalism, and the end of friendships/relationships


    • Avoid sources of uncivil information such as the news and social media
    • Improve your communication by listening to others and asking for their opinions
    • Consider the source of your information; is it honest, reliable, and unbiased?
    • Act with civility; stop using the “F word” and manage yourself by watching what you say and how you come across
    • Model positive, respectful, and appreciative behaviors even if you disagree
    • Encourage family and friends to demonstrate civil behaviors
    • Consider your communication; is a good group outcome better than you being right?
    • Perform one act of kindness every day and encourage others to do the same
    • If bullied or disrespected, reprogram yourself: think, act, and do something positive
    • Do an anger/frustration self-check and relax to lower your stress level
    • Seek professional help if because of uncivil behaviors, you are too angry, frustrated, stressed, depressed, pessimistic, or unable to enjoy life

    Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at [email protected]

            Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
            5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
            Coral Springs FL 33067

    As always, we are interested in your thoughts. If you would like to respond to this e-Letter, email your comments to [email protected] and we will publish them next month.

    Till October…

    The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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    Copyright © 2022 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.