the great manners experiment
the great manners experiment
So everyone is talking about rudeness and its prevalence in today's society. One woman on the local news channel here blamed the schools. She said they aren't doing enough to teach our children manners and respect.
I find that rude in and of itself. How very, very rude of someone to expect other people to raise her children. I thought manners and respect were taught at home. You can bet your bottom dollar that woman's kids are incredibly rude and obnoxious.
Let's clarify rude here. There's general rudeness and then there is obnoxiousness. If you burp in my face or cut into a conversation when I'm in the middle of a sentence, that's general rudeness. I will roll my eyes at you and move on.
Talking on a cell phone in a restaurant is pretty rude. Talking on a cell phone during a movie is obnoxious. Bringing 12 items to the cashier in the grocery store that is meant for 10 items or less is rude. Bringing 25 items and getting irate when you are questioned is obnoxious.
Double parking to run into a store for five minutes is rude. Double parking so you can sit on the hood of your car and talk to the slut from the tanning salon and then giving me the finger when I mention that you are blocking traffic is really fucking obnoxious.
Some people have this grand sense of entitlement. They think laws don't apply to them, rules were meant for them to break and everyone should move out of their way when the come through. They learn this behavior from watching their parents. A five year old sees his mother barreling through the aisle of WalMart with her overstuffed cart (filled with toys being purchased to stop the little brat from whining) and the mother rams her cart into you and instead of apologizing, curses at you for being in her way. The kid takes note of this. He keeps a little file in his head of his mother's behavior. How she yells at the sales clerk because the store is out of her brand of tampons. How she rifles through the display of jeans, throwing them every which way until she finds the right size for her precious boy, leaving the mess on the floor and explaining to the boy that that is what the help is for. Obnoxiousness is passed down from generation to generation.
I'm not saying that parents should sit home with their children and have nightly etiquette lessons. And I'm certainly not saying that I'm not guilty of being rude in front of my kids. They have witnessed my parking lot rage. They have seen me hang up on telemarketers. So if I catch them acting in a rude or obnoxious manner I ask myself where did they learn that behavior? If they learned it from me, I correct them, but correct myself also. It's hard to raise your children to be polite and mind their manners when everyone around them, kids and grown ups alike, behave like animals.
But is my being rude to the person who is ruining our movie going experience by letting his ring tone on his cell phone go off twenty times acceptable? When politeness doesn't get anywhere with someone who is being rude is it ok turn on the obnoxiousness to get results? Rudeness begets rudeness, I suppose. Is it too late? Have we already set the precedent and created a society in which rudeness is not only tolerated, but expected?
I am going to try something. I am going to try to get through this day without once being rude or obnoxious. I am going to make extra effort to use good manners and proper social behavior. I am going to obey every rule and respect authority and law. I will drive the speed limit and smile at cashiers and answer the phone in a pleasant, professional manner. And I will see if my politeness and charming behavior causes anyone else to behave in the same manner. If rudeness begets rudeness, then wouldn't politeness work the same way?
Results of the Great Manners Experiment tonight.
Oh, have a nice day!