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The Rude Society: Are You Contributing?

April 30, 2017

Rude WomanSomething’s happening out there, and it’s not good. It’s at times surprising, other times obnoxious and, increasingly, downright scary.

So what’s up?

We’re getting ruder as a society. By “society” I’m referring to my fellow Canadians and our neighbours to the south (some 325 million Americans), but not to forget those who live in other industrialized countries.

Human beings, according to Charles Darwin, are supposed to be evolving. However, given the the growing trend of people losing civility, becoming more impatient with others, and more confrontational, it appears that a segment of the planet (namely wealthy countries) is devolving. While your faithful correspondent on leadership issues isn’t a psychologist, it would be fair to suggest that the rapid pace of change—driven by technology, the focus on wealth and material well-being, and the rise of the self-actualizing individual (“it’s all about me”)—and its unknown future effects is at the core of this rudeness trend.

People are more geographically dispersed from family, relationships have become more virtual, and face-to-face relationships are suffering. It’s easier to send out a nasty email or text message instead of having a conversation face-to-face to address a disagreement.

Social media comments have degenerated to the level where it’s not worth attempting to read replies to articles and blog posts. Frequently they’re anonymous, reflecting cowardice on the commenter’s part. People react viscerally without thinking first to what they read online.

Would you actually say that to someone’s face?

Then they’re the trolls who, obviously living miserable lives of despair and pain, belittle and attack others on the web. Indeed, virtual bullying has been responsible for the suicides of several young people who could no longer take the abuse and humiliation.

Mad Driver.jpgLet’s look at just a few examples.

United Airline’s recent creative method of expelling a passenger (a 69 year-old physician) who refused an involuntary over-booking request to leave the plane is an over-the-top example of how authorities abuse their power by totally forgetting any notion of civility and treating customers with patience and respect.

A few years ago at a Starbucks in the United States, a young woman flipped out and threw a cup of hot coffee in the barista’s face because she wasn’t happy on how she’d been served.

Then there was the February 2017 case of a 69 year-old male in Saint John, New Brunswick, who deliberately ran over a 23 year-old man with his Audi SUV (dislocating his shoulder in the process). The perpetrator, a retired businessman, had followed the victim in his car after the two had exchanged words in a parking lot half an hour earlier. In April, the man was sentenced to time served and lost his driving licence for a year. The young man has launched a civil action case.

At the other end of Canada in Edmonton, Alberta, a horrifying case of road rage occurred in March 2017. After dropping her husband off at the train station early in the morning, a woman tooted at a car that had pulled over at a stop sign. She was merely giving a heads-up honk that she was going around him. When she arrived at her house, she realized that the man driving the vehicle at the stop sign had followed her home. She was already outside of her car when he attacked her with a crow bar, breaking both her forearms. He then attempted to run her over.

A few weeks later a 28 year-old man was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder.

What the heck is going on in society—and in “polite” Canada?

Middle fingerWe’re getting ruder, and more violent, by the day, showing absolute intolerance and zero patience for anything that appears to piss us off or that’s contrary to our belief system.

We’ve lost perspective as a society, forgetting how good most of us have it when it comes to material well-being, physical health and living in relatively safe communities. Except our collective mental health seems to be suffering.

I’ve noticed in my own city of Ottawa (Canada’s capital of 930,000 residents) that drivers are becoming increasingly belligerent, not just speeding and running red lights, but making illegal passing manoeuvres, honking for no reason and making physical gestures. And I’ll tell you, it requires effort for me not to fall into that trap of becoming what I’ll call an asshole driver. Fortunately my wife, Sue, has a lot of perspective as a driver, so is a good role model.

Where this rudeness trend goes and for how long is unknown, but it’s reasonable to expect it to become more ingrained in society. The devolution of our species continues.

Are you contributing to the rudeness trend?

What are you doing to maintain perspective and civility?

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.
— Charles Darwin

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2017 10:55 am

    I think much of society has evolved toward being more concerned with victimhood than with kindness and respect and taking care to guard it in one’s own behavior.

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