Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Missing Manners

by Annette Dashofy

I’ve long maintained that common courtesy is extremely uncommon. But disrespect seems to be evolving (DEvolving) into a way of life for many. People in stores prefer to talk on their cell phone than to thank the clerk who just waited on them. In the parking lot, drivers are in such a hurry to get in or out of there, they won’t slow down for pedestrians or other drivers trying to back out of a space. Their time is obviously more valuable than everyone else’s.

Public rudeness has come to the front of the news in the last few days. From that moron congressman who felt the need to shout his opinion to the world during President Obama’s speech (not to mention all his cronies who sat on their hands like obstinate school children), to Serena Williams’ hissy fit, to Kanye West throwing verbal cold water on Taylor Swift’s big moment in the spotlight.

What is going on here?

This past weekend, I spent a day with a couple of fellow Pennwriters, manning a booth at a bookfest. We were having a nice time, chatting up passersby and visiting with friends we don’t see that often. A man came over to check out some of my friend’s photography, which she had on display and for sale. He noticed her name and made a rather nasty comment about it. We looked at him as if he’d grown a third eye. Was this guy simply a clueless moron or was he intentionally being disrespectful?

My friend handled the situation gracefully, pointing out his mistake in the translation of the language. Without apologizing, he grunted and moved on. To antagonize someone else, I assume.

I remember when my dad was suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s; he lost his ability to self-edit. Whatever stupid (and sometimes hurtful) thing popped into his mind came directly off his tongue. We learned to shrug it off as part of the disease.

So what excuse do these people have? Brain damage?

Now there’s a thought!


Joyce said...

They don't have any excuse and that's part of the problem.

I've noticed that a lot of them are from the generation that had parents who thought they could do no wrong. The same ones who were allowed to do whatever they wanted in school because to correct them would ruin their self-esteem. The same ones who think the world owes them a living. The same ones who want to get paid for a job but not actually have to do the work. The same ones who blame everyone else for their problems.

I could go on and on. You shouldn't have gotten me started!

Annette said...

That doesn't explain Congressman Wilson. He's old enough to know better.

Karen in Ohio said...

My first husband had such a chip on his shoulder; he was always worried that someone would take advantage of him, and he didn't "take anything off anybody". To this end he was preemptively obnoxious, and was downright rude, often scoring points off other people before they could do it to him. It made me crazy, but I see this same behavior in many other people, too.

A lot of it is that he, and many others, were never taught manners, the real social skills. As a Catholic school kid I was expected to be polite; we even had etiquette classes. A good friend also taught etiquette for many years, but such a class is pretty rare these days. alas.

Joyce, you hit on something else--so many people are online while they are at work, which is in effect stealing from their employers. It's almost taken for granted that one can do this. I'm appalled. I hate to say "In my day", but back when I was a young person in an office even personal phone calls were frowned upon, let alone updating Facebook pages and Twittering all day long. And then they are shocked, shocked! when they are let go.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Great topic, Annette; one that seems to be hitting the news lately. Even Roger Fedderer is not immune.

In the sports world, we used to call them role models. The best of their sports were held to a standard that required them to act with respect to others. At least in public. The teams and owners would hold these players to a high standard and the players, knowing they were lucky to be playing a game for a living instead of actually working, seemed to respect it.

These days some individuals in the sports world seem to think they are self-important. That they are bigger than the game or their team mates. These guys should be weeded out of the fold, but the almighty dollar is so important to the owners, they are willing to pay for talent and let the coach worry about the attitude. Most times that tactic backfires. Think Terrel Owens in football.

There seems to be very few role models in our society anymore. You don't make the news by being a good role model, you make the news by being a jackass. And our kids see the way these "Important" people behave and it seems to breed incivility and disrespect.

There are times when I watch the news and feel like our country, our world, is going in the craper.

Dana King said...

"So what excuse do these people have? Brain damage?"

I comfort myself with the thought that, if these people don't have brain damage now, they will if they pull that crap on the wrong person.

Gina said...

Amen, Dana.
I've long harbored the secret desire for the ability to vomit at will, a skill that would come in handy when confronted with hostile rudeness.

Annette said...

Karen, I do think a lot of people can only build themselves up by tearing other down.

Will, as for role models, you are so right. Think back to the day that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both died. Lovely, brave Farrah became a footnote in small print with the blazing headlines being about an odd, but idolized drug addict (and goodness only knows what else--not going there today, thank you).

Dana, maybe we could put all the rude lunkheads in a room together and let them duke it out. Hey! I like that idea!

Of course, Gina's idea is pretty damned good, too. LMAO!

PatRemick said...

I think the congressman is a different issue from "rude" -- he's part of "Idiot America," which I recently discussed on my personal blog -- excerpt below:

I recently went to hear Charles Pierce (who also appears on the wonderful NPR news quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me") talk about his new book "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free" at a local bookstore. These are what he says are the principles of Idiot America:

1) A theory need only sell books or elevate ratings in order to be deemed valid. (This explains how someone like Ann Coulter gets TV airtime on legitimate news programs to continue to spread blatant lies and distortions, such as calling John Edwards a "fag.")

2) "Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough." (This explains the nut jobs screaming at the health care forums during the congressional recess and Sarah Palin's claims about death panels.)

3) A fact is defined as “that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.” (This may explain why otherwise reasonably intelligent people still believe the Internet smear campaign that Obama was not born in the United States.)

PatRemick said...

The congressman was saying it "loudly enough," don't you think?

queenofmean said...

I agree that rudeness seems to have increased. Too many people seemed wrapped up in what's important to them & forget the rest of the world. 'It's all about me', you know.
Although here's a story that says the opposite. I was heading into the parking garage at Station Square in Pittsburgh. The man in front of me held open the door for some women coming out. The one woman said, "People here are so polite."

Annette said...

Pat, in addition to saying it loud enough, I think there's something about FORWARDING an email to more people makes it true, too. That's the only explanation I have for all the stupid stuff I delete from my inbox.

That's a nice story, Queen. I do think the polite people outweigh the rude ones. That's why they make the news. I just fear the tide is turning...