Social distancing is teaching Generation Z the limits of a virtual world. A revival of ‘Iowa nice’ could follow.

I thought in 2004 that social media would exhaust and divide us, making us uncivil and even hostile. Now I have hope for young people.

Social distancing is teaching Generation Z the limits of a virtual world. A revival of 'Iowa nice' could follow.

By Michael Bugeja, Iowa View Contributor

Copyright 2020 Des Moines Register

Social distancing, partisan politics and isolation may put an end to the culture of “Iowa nice.” But the emerging generation just might save it.

I have lived most of my life in the Midwest but came to know Iowa nice upon my arrival in 2003 at Iowa State University. Cellphones were in use then; but students mostly kept them in bookbags and said hello to each other and professors on the campus green.

We agreed to disagree most of the time, even on hot-button topics. The Huffington Post blamed that tendency for slower advancement on progressive ideals that once were “the cornerstone of the state.”

There were plenty of sexist, racist, xenophobic and other offensive incidents that undercut belief in Iowa nice.

I experienced that in my Dec. 26, 2006, Register essay titled “Let conscience guide debate on immigration,” noting how President Ronald Reagan viewed the matter. A reader clipped my commentary and penned profanity-laced warnings in the margins: “Why don’t you talk to the people who really know the cost of these rotten, stupid (profane slur) to us taxpayers.”

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