Friday, October 21, 2011

Culture of Rudeness

I am fed up of rude people. Lately that includes my children (at times anyway). And I can't fault them really. They are surrounded by a culture that approves of rude behavior. Just watch a few episodes of shows on Disney Channel and your head will reel. 

Except Phineas and Ferb.
Don't knock that show. It's hilarious and I love it.

Our children are raised watching shows where exceptionally rude behaviour is met, not with shock and disdain by the audience, but with laughter.  We teach our kids that it's cool and funny to be rude, selfish, mean and dumb.


Let's look at what we adults watch and laugh at/with. There is an abundance of shows with rude actors, reality TV stars, anchors and other TV personalities. For those of you who watched Ricky Gervais during Oscar night... were you disgusted or amused?   Be honest now.  America has become a country that lauds mediocrity, rudeness and downright insulting behavior. We confuse rudeness and maliciousness with honesty and straightforwardness.

Half the adult shows we watch are based on making fun of others, being rude and obnoxious. And we gobble it up. I notice an uptick in my children's rudeness depending on what they watch and I firmly believe that adults are just as susceptible to it.

When my son or daughter is rude or mouthy I call them on their bad behavior. Unfortunately we let adults get away with it. How often have we been faced with a rude person and said something? I bet most of us just seethe inside but keep our mouths shut.
I own a business and my staff and I have seen a considerable increase in our customers' rudeness over the years. And since we need their business we suck it up. I've even had my receptionist have to dodge a pen being thrown at her. That was you Mr. Durrant !!!!!  And guess what, we were dumb enough to let you use our services again. In fact you are a customer right now.  What kind of manners did your mother teach you? But your money is just as green and we have to pay our bills. So, we suck it up.

Entitlement Society At sometime, in the last 80 years or so, we have become increasingly demanding. The customer is king. Now, over the last few years, this entitlement notion, has been coupled with rudeness. We see it all around us. It's cool to be demanding and rude.  We often we have customers come at us with an aggressive stance regarding some demands they have. I wish they would understand that a polite and sweet demeanor would be so much more effective.  Be polite, be appreciative and you'll have a much better chance to get what you want and get it a lot faster than by being obnoxious and manipulative.  Man, I wish I could tell them that.

Internet Society The anonymity afforded us by the Internet has greatly contributed to the general tone we find among people. People are downright vicious, rude and malicious behind that perceived veil of privacy and anonymity called the Internet.

I've been accused of being rude. So has my staff. Surprisingly the people who call us rude are invariably the ones who come at us with unreasonable demands and then are surprised when we stand firmly by our policy. And I stand firmly by my staff. I've seen them stay calm and polite even when they had someone scream at them and call them names (and later complain to me that my staff had been rude to them).

I had three customers scream at me. I asked one to leave the building when she started to throw things around, denied another one service (incidentally she came back the next year much better behaved and a pleasure to deal with), and I hung up on the third. The one I hung up on called back and was incredulous.

"Did you hang up on me just now?"

"Yes, I did. And if you yell at me again I'll hang up again."

"Oh? Well, it was on a speakerphone so you probably thought I was shouting."

" No sir, you were shouting  at me and when you do that I cannot hear your words, only your voice."


"Well, I am sorry."

" Good, apology accepted. Let's discuss this like adults now."

And we did. And it worked out so much better that way.

Being polite does not mean being a push-over, or a floor mat. I've seen parents shrug their shoulders when their little darling was rude or selfish and pass it off with a 'Oh, she's is so strong willed' or some other excuse of similar nature. We do not give our children the tools to maintain their position in an educated and polite way and so they become rude and obnoxious and we wonder what happened. 'Gee, I have no idea where he gets it from?' Have you looked in a mirror lately? Watch your kids. Our mirror is right there.

(And since we are talking about rude...when you go into a business or store and ask the employee questions could you please not talk on your cellphone at the same time and later on claim that your questions weren't properly answered?)


Sherry said...

I remember how shocked I was the first time I saw a TV show where rude was considered funny among family members. That show was "Rosanne" and it became very popular. I never watched an episode all the way through.

Karen said...

I dislike the entire sitcom genre that relies on rude and flippant reparte for it's comedy

Thanks for the post!

Marlis said...

Sherry and Karen, unfortunately we are the minority. Judging by the number of shows of that nature there are, it must be very popular.