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
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,”
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.