Incivility: The New Normal? (Updated)

road rage is incivil behavior

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates                                   Volume 18, Number 3

Whether its politics, the election season, or social media posts, we are living in a period of incivility. It appears that the country has become polarized with either you are with me, or you are against me.

This e-Letter is an update of one written five years ago and the situation seems to have gotten worse.

Today, if you disagree with some group’s message, its possible that you will be met by protest, rejection, ridicule, cancellation, or even violence.

Calls to be incivil to others because they don’t think like you or act like you are disrespectful and tear at the fabric of society’s values. Anger, fear, and depression become predominant feelings as we deal with the pressure to choose a side. We can disagree but do we have to get up in someone’s face or worse?

In combating incivility, fostering a culture of respect, empathy, and constructive engagement is paramount. By prioritizing civility in our interactions and advocating for systemic change, we can stem the tide of discord and rebuild a more harmonious society.

Our e-Letter this month focuses on understanding incivility and how we can deal with it.

Dr. Kimmel’s blog is about Self-Care 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 numerous positive and compassionate comments we have received.


Have you ever encountered insults or witnessed rude and disrespectful conduct? Has a group you associate with faced verbal attacks or threats simply because its views differ from another group’s? Have you noticed news outlets and print media prioritizing their agendas over impartial journalism? Have you come across derogatory remarks about others in social media posts from friends and acquaintances?

Why does it seem like so many people are on the offensive?

The answer might lie in recognizing that uncivil behavior spreads like a contagion, infecting others in its wake.

In today’s interconnected world, individuals clamor for their preferences without considering what’s best for society as a whole. This attitude is perpetuated through tweeting, retweeting, posting, and other forms of social media engagement.

Even some of our elected officials have adopted discourteous behavior, yet they dominate the news cycle. As our global community grows closer due to interconnectivity, rude behavior gains visibility.

Over time, we become desensitized and feel powerless. Actions that were once deemed unacceptable—such as name-calling, disturbing others in public, or using vulgar language—no longer elicit surprise. The priorities of one group’s protest may overshadow what’s beneficial for society overall.

This mindset of prioritizing self-interest fosters a belief that one’s needs exceed others.

When this becomes the norm, where do we go from there? How can we restore respect and consideration for others as core societal values?

Uncivil behavior can lead to heightened stress and anger, health issues, reduced productivity, and even aggressive acts like road rage and vandalism.

We devolve into incivility when communication fails, when we neglect the fact that society relies on cooperation, and when we disregard the principle of treating others well. If we can’t respect and empathize with others, society will continue to deteriorate.

It’s incumbent upon us to maintain civility in the face of rudeness. We must not reinforce or tolerate uncivil behavior. Instead, we should demonstrate respect and empathy, especially toward those with whom we disagree.

We must engage in meaningful dialogue and strive to understand differing perspectives, even amidst disagreement. When confronted with close-mindedness, we should practice stress reduction techniques.

We should exemplify positive, respectful behavior while standing firm against bullying.

And, crucially, we must recognize that the needs of the many outweigh the desires of the few.

We offer the following information:


           If you want friends, you must be friendly. Always complaining and
           posting negative comments is not going to bring you friends.
           No one likes to get puked on… John Patrick Hickey


  • Incivility encompasses behaviors lacking in respect and good manners and are destructive to the core of society’s values
  • Incivility is like a virus that spreads quickly and easily and makes people less kind, less considerate, and less respectful
  • Incivil behaviors encompass a range of actions, including:
  • vulgar language, rude gestures, interrupting others
  • monopolizing conversations, minimizing, and discounting what others say
  • intentionally opposing and arguing with others
  • conversational narcissism and pseudolistening
  • Exposure to or experiencing incivility can cloud cognitive faculties impairing attention, information processing, and problem-solving skills
  • Incivil behaviors fuel stress, anger, and aggression, leading to adverse health outcomes, decreased work productivity, aggressive behaviors including road rage, vandalism, and the end of relationships
  • Rudeness and disrespect have become commonplace with usually unacceptable language and actions becoming acceptable
  • Underlying incivility is a breakdown in communication due to intention, ignorance, threat, anger, fear, and loyalty to some group’s beliefs
  • It can polarize normally calm people into unthinking and blindly accepting the words and actions of group leaders
  • On average, incivil behaviors occur multiple times a day, contributing to a pervasive atmosphere of hostility
  • Studies indicate that a significant portion of people attribute incivility’s escalation to social media platforms


  • Minimize exposure to sources of incivility, such as contentious news and social media platforms, to mitigate its impact on mental wellness
  • Improve communication by actively listening to others and asking for their opinions
  • Consider your communication; is a good group outcome better than your being correct?
  • Consider the source of your information; is it honest, reliable, and unbiased?
  • Act with civility; watch what you say and how you come across
  • Monitor and manage emotions to prevent stress and anger from escalating
  • Model positive, respectful, and appreciative behaviors even if you disagree
  • If bullied or disrespected, reprogram yourself: think, act, and do something positive for personal growth and self-empowerment
  • Seek professional help if due to incivil behaviors, you are too angry, frustrated, depressed, pessimistic, and 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 [email protected] and we will publish them next month.

    Till April…

    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.

    If you no longer wish to receive future e-Letter reminders, please send an email to [email protected]. requesting to be removed from this list.
    If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this e-Letter to your contacts and friends.
    Copyright © 2024 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.