Outrageous behavior is unexpected in a well-run, polite society. The more polite we are, the less anticipated and understood it becomes. Sociopaths know this well and use it to good effect as a one-on-one weapon. They are confident in the fact that no one would fully believe the story of their bad behavior should it ever be related. The more outrageous it is, the less anyone could see it happening, putting the sole witness in a bind.
Today, this strategy is used even in public. Somehow, the reality of bad behavior has become fodder for intense debate, where even hard evidence is open to interpretation and "benefit of the doubt" overrides openly bizarre antics.
Expected norms are increasingly becoming abnormal, and this is paralyzing society with analysis that broadcasts every perspective. A lie is no longer a lie and a threat is no longer a threat, because meaning has become fluid.
This shift is deeply tied to the huge broadband connection we all enjoy today. I guess it's hypnotic, hearing your own opinion reflected back or mimicked so loudly that it becomes undisputed truth"at least within your closed circle of global contacts. Opinion has now become "my truth", and "the truth" seems far less relevant, because it is no longer attainable.
But truth shouldn't require a global sounding board. At least it didn't use to because it isn't a democratic issue. Usually it is just a binary true or false decided by the evidence at hand. Deception does nothing but cloud that, but deceivers can be outed over time in a society that does its homework.
And there lies the rub. Everyone needs to do their own reflection on those things that define them. Instead of enjoying slapstick opinions and forwarding them as truth, ask yourself if the verbiage is worthy of your time. Ask what the benefit is to your own life, to your community. If the benefit is small or nil, don't hit send.
We need to step back from being a statistically run society. The truth doesn't care how many people related a lie, and fact is fact even when a false statement is the flavor of the day. It takes lots of homework to become an expert in anything. Know your own limitations and don't speak just because you can.
Our country, and particularly our latest generation to join the workforce, needs to be led to reverse this trend. Government needs to walk this walk. If a story needs to shift to excuse an action, then the action was bad. Parents know this when they deal with their five year olds. Government needs to state its motivation for action taken just once, and when tempted to change that story it's time to 'fess up.
This lack of accountability is rampant. Our bureaucracies have become walled cities where actions taken are accountable to no one in the citizenry, or even among elected officials. Elected officials realize they are underequipped to provide bureaucratic oversight, so they simply go with the flow and side with decisions handed to them. Few are willing to dig deep to review decision making that, ultimately, affects every one of us. And outrageous behavior is excused handing us the Phoenix pay system, a CRA that rationalizes attacks on citizens as being patriotic, a government that believes jobs within a corrupt corporation outweigh the loss of stature we have at the World Bank.
Homework is hard. In the long run, accepting outrageous behavior will be harder.