The New Incivility

The public radio show This American Life recently offered a segment that indicated a trend sure to escalate in our wired-in world…

The following link will direct you to the page for the Christmastime Episode #371: “Scenes From a Mall” (still free at this writing, but will probably becomes a 95-cent download by the time you read this). If you download, scroll to the 24-minute mark for the story “Santa Fight Club.” It details the history and the current internal conflicts among the membership of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. It’s a familiar story to almost anyone who has been in a professional, hobbyist, or special interest organization:

  • Group of people with like-minded interests or professions gets together socially to network and exchange helpful information. In this case, the individuals are those who work as Santa Clauses.
  • More people get involved, and the organization needs to formally charter itself, mainly to better serve its members, and to limit liabilities. Conventions are organized, officers are elected, and a web site is set up.
  • The head or the whole board of the organization starts making decisions in the name of the group without informing the membership. Some of the members strenuously object.
  • Arguments get heated on the organization’s web site.

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