Last week I found a story on Slate.com arguing that people wearing pajamas in public is not a sign of the decline of civilization. Because I would happily live in my jammies, I promptly posted the link to my Facebook page, adding a gleeful "See, people, SEE?"
Ironically, a few days later my friend and fellow columnist Renee Prusi wrote from a different stance, focusing on a garment called Forever Lazy, a singularly unattractive hybrid of long underwear and an adult-sized Onesie, complete with a handy butt flap for easier bathroom visits.
Renee didn't object to the outfit itself so much as the fact that it's touted as something that can be worn in public. She stated that people who make an effort to dress neatly and with a modicum of style project a better image and feel better about themselves.
I agree. Maybe it's not fair, maybe it shouldn't be so, but it's true: You are what you wear. At the very least, what you wear is how you're perceived.
I've seen people wearing pajama bottoms - and even bedroom slippers - in public. But even though I've whimsically suggested instituting a Mining Journal Pajama Day, I don't seriously consider pajamas appropriate out of the home apparel - unless it's 1965, you're 6 years old, and you're in the backseat of a station wagon at the drive-in.
But if civilization is in decline, I don't blame pajamas; I blame our eroding sense of civility. I believe it's partly a result of the tense times we're living in: Rampant unemployment, an escalating cost of living, a government more interested in party one-upsmanship than the needs of the people it serves. People are tightly wound. And tightly wound people are prone to snapping.
Snapping has led to Black Friday shoppers trampling and even pepper spraying one another to get their mitts on that all important PlayStation 2 or other hot gadget of the moment; people shoving, punching, even shooting one another in retaliation for perceived insults; even parents killing their own children to spite estranged spouses.
And it doesn't help that crude, vulgar behavior and an aggressive, immature "me first" mentality are glorified on shows like "Dance Moms" and "Jersey Shore." When I'm channel surfing and catch a glimpse of those alleged adults - hands on hips, chins thrust forward, nails-on-chalkboard voices threatening - I fantasize about grabbing them and knocking their big-haired heads together a la the Three Stooges.
This isn't a cartoon world, but some people live as though it is. We're becoming disconnected from one another's humanity. Cell phone texts, video games and the Internet make it easy to fling cruel words or indulge in fantasy acts of brutality in what feels like a sterile void. But those words hit live human targets, and virtual murders insidiously desensitize players' brains to the unalterable consequences of real-world violence.
If we are what we wear, so we are also what we take in and what we put out. Ingesting a steady diet of ugly results in a society that spews ugly all over one another.
So put on some real pants. Say please and thank you. Forgive rather than cuss out the person who steps on your foot. It's time to start putting the civil back into civilization.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. "Life With a View," a collection of her Mining Journal columns, is available at area bookstores. Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot.com.