Editor’s note: This is the first post in a three-part series on civility and social media. See part two, “ASHA’s 4 Tenets of Civility: A Guide to Public Discussions,” and part three, “Handling Trolls on Social Media: A How-To Guide.”
As communication professionals, ASHA members can and should set a strong example of promoting and practicing civil discourse. But 53% of members responding to an ASHA survey had experienced uncivil discourse on professional social media sites in the previous 12 months, and 36% had experienced incivility on personal social media.
Although ASHA has codes of conduct and behavior for its official online platforms—such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—ASHA can’t establish or enforce such codes on other sites, such as private Facebook groups. But members tell us they are often frustrated by the incivility on these sites, and that conversations are diametrically opposed to ASHA’s civility codes and cultural competence standards.
To help battle incivility and bullying in the workplace, some employers are calling on employees to target problem behavior.
In our politically charged times, an SLP walks into a battle of insults—and turns it into a thought-provoking discussion for some high-schoolers.
In response, ASHA has compiled civility-related tools, templates and resources in a digital toolkit. Members can use these tools to cope with online environments that don’t reflect ASHA’s standards of professional conduct or promote the cultural competency principles ASHA espouses, and to model the respectful ways in which we can agree to disagree. The tools can help members to conduct themselves civilly and professionally on open and private social media channels and also to promote civil discourse in all conversations.
It’s not just ASHA members who report digital disrespect. More than half of Americans—53%—say they were subjected to hateful speech and harassment online in 2018, according to a recent poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League. And 37 percent reported severe attacks, including sexual harassment and stalking. For one-third of Americans, online abuse targeted sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, gender identity or disability, the survey found.
A lack of civility significantly impedes the robust exchange of ideas and is an obstacle to working through controversial issues to reach meaningful and productive conclusions, according to current research. ASHA and its members can and should lead the way, and set a strong example, in promoting and practicing civil discourse as a requisite for meaningful and effective communication.
Future posts will address ASHA’s guiding civility principles and civility on social media.
We welcome your participation and feedback. Please leave your comments in the space below.
Lisa Cole is ASHA chief staff officer for communications. firstname.lastname@example.org