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Have Americans Become Ruder?

Updated on February 5, 2013
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Is polite old-fashioned?

I and a few like me seem to think so. Ask some people thirty-five and up, and i'm sure the the answer will be a resounding , yes!For those a little younger, it may seem the etiquette meter reads high enough. Though in fairness to the very young, this rudeness seems to be a manner all ages have adopted.

It must also be said that I live on the west end of the country . Westerners are known to be a bit more 'aloof'. On a recent trip to the south, however, it wasn't the friendly , 'in-your-face' feel i'd encountered years ago there either. Wonder if i'd fare better in the Midwest???

Now admittedly i'm not the paragon of politeness. Growing up in the Midwest in the seventies though,words like 'please',and 'thank-you' we're taught. (let me rephrase that) Drilled into you.

I can forgive rudeness on a personal level; but it's reprehensible when merchants or public service workers behave this way. Ever go in a store, make a purchase, and wait for those words...'thank-you, come again'? Or ' did you find everything okay?'

OK, in truth, we know those merchants of old were only being polite to bring you back.Hey! It worked! Wouldn't it be nice to pull into a gas station and have someone ask you to do your windows? (I mean someone who works there, not the scary, toothless, raincoat wearing guy hanging in the parking lot). Especially considering what we're currently charged for gas. How about a foot massage with every fill-up?

It can be said that being polite is a personal choice. Maybe us old farts shouldn't be so nostalgic. Maybe we're the rude ones for wanting to impose our standards on everyone else. Next we'll probably be demanding that men open doors for ladies, carry packages, or help old people across the street. Remember when most young people said ,"sir" or "ma'am" ? And is that all the opposite of rudeness, is? Words, phrases, actions?

My mother used to say that being polite is a sign of your upbringing. In retrospect; she obviously had a motive . A selfish one at that. She didn't want anyone to think her son was, "raised by a pack of wolves". Though , admittedly, it may sometimes seem debatable. The other day ,in the grocery store was proof of that.

After making my purchase I waited a few seconds. I stood holding my bag , waiting for those magic words from the clerk. After giving me this blank stare, not seeming to have a clue, as to why I was being so odd. I walked out realizing i'd behaved rather rudely myself.

In fairness though, there are some establishments that do still pride themselves on polite service. Some individuals do too . Last week ,in fact, the staff at the theatre were incredibly customer friendly. All my fellow theatre-goers were even polite enough to turn off their phones before the movie. Talk was even at a minimum. Quiet whispers only audible to it's intended hearers.

Then it happened ! Someone brought a screaming infant into the theatre. Now it's undestandable that maybe the babysitter didn't show. Maybe it's just that they don't trust anyone with their baby...also understandable. Yet here I sat hoping that sooner, rather- than -later , they'd take their little bundle of joy to the foyer. Nope. He screamed till he tired.

That's apparently how it is, or maybe the screaming baby people are the same ones who don't say ' please', or 'thank-you'. Or sneeze and cough on you liberally. Or step on your foot, without ever acknowledging you. (ouch!) Good manners though, are like a fine wine...manners need to be aged to perfection. Which means that it would be to our advantage to teach children these things at an early age. Maybe then this behaviour will continue into adulthood.

America always known to be as a 'melting pot', is a certainly collage of manners , which according to recent research it can have a profound effect on the individual as well as society as a whole. In such cross cultured society it is good to be as aware as possible of the manners and customs of those around you. It would be great if good manners could be practiced , all-around.

Some blame it on this new cyber, fast-paced, high tech society. Computers and such gadgets do cause less physical interactions. As a compromise, i'd accept a simple 'ty',or a 'plz'. lol. Even with that being said , there is a new 'cyberethics' which focuses on, as it may sound polite behaviour via web communication , while some educators are introducing these standards to children...adults can most certainly benefit from 'cyberethics 101'.

The bottom line though, is to just be aware of others and there feelings. The treat thy neighbor as thyself model and we'll all be o.k.

Oops... forgive Me for being rude I forgot to thank YOU, for letting me vent!

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    • Laurinzo Scott profile imageAUTHOR

      Live To Write 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      T hank you Deborah you are so kind. Glad to be here among such great writers as yourself!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow this is your first hub., It is amazing.. and yes I agree with you,, American is rude.. I was brought up with please and thank yous. My father would have beat me well maybe not beat but spanked me it did hurt.. lol but it taught me to be respectful. So glad you are here at the hub.. debbie

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      6 years ago from USA

      I think that in general people are ruder and neglect the little niceties that were commonplace when we were growing up. However, in certain parts of the country, I've encountered strangers who were incredibly considerate and polite.

      I could give a hundred examples of rudeness, but what I like to remember is walking with my cart in Walmart one day and collided ing with another cart pushed by a teenaged boy. I apologized, and he immediately said, "No, excuse me, mam. It was my fault, I should have been watching."

      Another kind of funny story: On a very infrequent visit to New York City, I was getting onto a crowded escalator and bumped into a couple who were also stepping onto it. I said, "Excuse me!" and the man said, "What? Not from around here, are you?" :)

      Oh, and before I forget, thank you for a great hub!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Yes I think so. I am not totally sure why but people just seem ruder to me. Maybe it is because they are really scared about what is going on. I am going to put this hub on facebook, because I really think it is worth sharing.

    • Laurinzo Scott profile imageAUTHOR

      Live To Write 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      It is true... that some regional myths about certain areas do exist... some proven some not. I think essentially it goes back to how you are raised. I too agree that , yes there are some exceptional young people that go outside the status quo, and are very polite. Thanks for your comments Star

    • profile image

      Starmom41 

      6 years ago

      I just now noticed this hub- no-no-no you don't want the midwest!!! these folks bring rudeness to an art-and-a-science! one individual who actually said "manners are a sign of weakness" seemed to speak for the majority of the population- but I'll add the rare bits of basic courtesy come from KIDS (teenagers). Yet there's a widespread misconception that NYers are rude- it must come from ppl who have never been in the midwest!

    • Laurinzo Scott profile imageAUTHOR

      Live To Write 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Thanks geordmc... yes it is a sad state of affairs... maybe the'll start teaching it in school... we can only hope

    • profile image

      geordmc 

      6 years ago from Beliot, Wisconsin

      I have to agree that manners and the teaching of them is lost. So many parents have become so jaded themselves that they forgot that being nice and polite will bring about the same. By the way, Welcome to hubpages.

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 

      6 years ago

      Well aren't you a sweetie! Thank you.

    • Laurinzo Scott profile imageAUTHOR

      Live To Write 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Well thank you I very much appreciate that...and after reading a few of your hubs I am especially flattered.

      thanx Ginger!!!!

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 

      6 years ago

      Welcome to Hubpages Laurinzo! Excellent first hub.

    • Laurinzo Scott profile imageAUTHOR

      Live To Write 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      I agree I think it helps not only society at large... but that individual child to mature, and prosper in any area they chose, because that politeness goes a long way...any thanx for commenting

    • Cassie Smith profile image

      Cassie Smith 

      6 years ago from U.S.

      I would say so. Bringing up children well is a lost art. There is a lack of respect and awareness of other people in social situations.

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