Apr 182004
Authors: Sara Crocker

Seventy-nine percent of surveyed Americans think that lack of

respect and courtesy is a serious problem, according to a poll done

by CNN in 2002.

And here I was thinking the French were rude.

But why in our post-Sept. 11 society are we still plagued by

such seemingly petty indifferences? I think a major factor is how

we choose to communicate with each other.

How many times have we replaced a term of endearment with a

four-letter word? I’ve had some friends who use the f-bomb and

honey interchangeably with their significant others. Funnily

enough, most of us don’t find this behavior to be odd, but I’m sure

older generations do.

Now, of course, younger and older generations have been in

opposition for an eternity; the age of the past is generally

regarded as a “better time” many wish to return to. In the Bible

and in Greek mythology, all the ages following the initial era are

always seen as a downward spiral into wickedness and deceit, away

from the “golden age” of the past.

However, it seems that a major reason that we find these

generations at odds is because each generation is socialized

differently and brought up with different “norms,” or ideals that

are compatible with the society at that time.

Dr. Hedy Bookin-Weiner, a sociology instructor for the CSU

honors program, says the society we live in is not conducive to

learning manners. She says that parents play a major role in

socialization, but as of late it has become increasingly common

that both parents work, leaving children at home to learn these

norms of behavior from other sources.

“I think a lot of people today don’t know how to be polite,”

Bookin-Weiner said. “They haven’t been taught what to do.”

When we do learn, it comes from sources like the media and our

friends. Many of the recent pop culture anomalies have socialized

us to believe that this new behavior should replace the status


There was a saying, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses

an eye.” Now it seems that instead, “It would be really funny if

you did lose an eye” (plus it would be great ratings). We just seem

to crave political incorrectness, gratuitous profanity and

over-the-top pranks for entertainment.

For anyone who may be skeptical about whether or not this new

pop culture dominated by the Ashton Kutchers and Bam Margeras,

please look at what you are wearing.

If you own a trucker hat, wear Bam’s clothing (especially his

ridiculous heart-shaped logo) or listen to Him, the band he brought

into the limelight, you’ve probably been socialized without even

knowing it.

So, what exactly does watching “Viva La Bam” have to do with

rudeness? Well, generally, supporting a product means you support

the ideals behind it. But, as Bookin-Weiner pointed out, even if

you don’t initially support the idea, you will if you are exposed

to it over time.

Because we constantly view this media we accept it, and some of

us probably even see many of these actions as glamorous because of

how they are portrayed. Eventually we forget the basics of


“Manners come down to basic consideration, kindness for others,”

Bookin-Weiner said.

However, our rudeness stems from far more than watching


The developments of technology, whether its keeping your cell

phone by your side and even cuddling with it at night, or the way

you drive your car home on the weekend (trust me, the officer will

not accept you trying to beat your record time home as a legitimate

excuse for speeding) certainly have contributed to our current

society and how we choose to deal with people.

Also, we as a society aren’t really critical of ourselves. In

the same CNN poll, only 41 percent of people surveyed admitted that

they themselves have behaved in a rude way in the past. Now, I

think it’s safe to say that all of us have been rude at one point

in our lives.

Until we begin to realize that this type of behavior is

ultimately doing more harm than good, we will probably continue to

aggravate each other through ridiculous actions like road rage or

petty pranks like smashing mailboxes.

It’s clich�d, but if we just remember we aren’t that

different from those surrounding us and try to be more

accommodating to their feelings, we’d probably all be a bit



Sara is a freshman at CSU studying journalism. She is a designer

for the Collegian.

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