The day modesty and politeness died

Author: Angella Nampewo. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Modesty is dead and politeness is on its deathbed. They will soon be buried in the same grave.
  • Away with politeness. The people feel that it has not served them to bring their oppressors to account.

Back in the day, modesty was a virtue. You couldn’t toot your horn too loud. It was unseemly. Even if you were good at something, you had to wait around for people to praise you. You couldn’t be the one to detail your greatness. All that went out of the window with the advent of social media. Now you can show off no end about your accomplishments, your exploits, relationships, excursions and even the fine dining or comfortable living arrangements. It is all game. In fact, it is content. You can tell all and sundry that you are smart, funny or moneyed. 

Out with the modesty, in with self-expression, for better or worse. The transition from what we were brought up to believe and the world in which we now find ourselves can be quite confusing. One moment they are telling you not to let your light shine too bright and the next, you are being cheered on to bring it out from under the bushel and let it shine. 
Such is the cultural shock of those who lived in the age of privacy, now having their laundry, clean or dirty, out on the lawn for all the world to see. If you won’t air it voluntarily, someone else will. It is no wonder that some are finding it necessary to tighten the laws on this runaway self-expression. 

However, the anthem of the free spirits plays on: Be authentic. Don’t sing the praises of people who hurt you. Death was almost the only place where people could find a level of immunity from their sins. Only the village drunk could shout about your miserly nature or your secret love affairs and whatever the other mourners were too chicken to say. 
Others whispered but no one came out to confirm. That is no more. There is no more requirement to be nice to the living or the dead. If you are too powerful to criticise loudly when you are alive, all bets are off when you are dead. No wonder it has become commonplace to announce people dead before their time. We cannot wait to start with the obituary. There is even a meme for it. 

Forget the unruly village drunk shouting from the rooftop or the fireplace about the sins of the departed. We no longer have to be under the influence to say what is on our minds. Away with politeness. The people feel that it has not served them to bring their oppressors to account. While we are free to blow our trumpets about our accomplishments without judgement, the unpleasant truths are also bubbling under the surface, always waiting for a chance or a spark to burst forth. 

Modesty is dead and politeness is on its deathbed. They will soon be buried in the same grave. It’s a loud, opinionated world out there. We are jostling to see and be seen. We have the tools to shape perception about ourselves but it can all change in the blink of an eye. One negative comment can poison the whole thread of conversation. 
Nobody is spared, not even the Queen. We have had many examples in the recent past that demonstrate we are not about to revert to the culture of being nice, respectful people who venerate the dead. 
There is no modesty among the living and no rest for the departed who made unpopular choices. No one is waiting for the village drunk to broach the difficult subject at funerals these days. Anyone with a grievance, a mobile phone and a Twitter account will do.

Ms Nampewo is a writer, editor and communications consultant     
[email protected]

 

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