There was a time, a time not too long ago, when people who were habitually rude were shunned and ostracized from polite society, a time when mothers told their children to show respect to other people, especially those in authority. A time when fathers reminded their children, sometimes with corporal force, that rudeness was a quality not tolerated in the household. This was a time when even shows on the television were sometimes booted off the air or never broadcast because the level of rude behavior was considered too much. This time is for most, like a home cooked meal, a thing of the past. We are now the rude society, and we wallow in it. Our politicians wallow in it, our schools wallow in it, and our entertainers wallow in it. When did this change occur and more importantly, why did this change occur?
As with most societal changes, clear beginnings are difficult to pinpoint. Sometime in the great cultural revolution of the 1960’s a seed was sown. Surely this seed was planted accidentally. No person or group of persons desired the outcome. Just like nobody desired the housing market crash of 2008, it was just a consequence of certain forces set into play. Do not mistake me. There were many great ideas that came out of the 1960’s. Vietnam really was a bad idea; other races should be treated fairly, we probably should not wreck the only planet we have been given, and others of that ilk are noble and honorable. However, the same generation that gave us these benefits, gave us the shortcomings that are now manifesting themselves so viciously.
I hate to be cliché, but the baby and the bath water is highly applicable in this situation. Instead of moderating the excesses of the time, the culture leapt to the opposite extreme. Blind allegiance to authority is stupidity; Failure to respect any authority is anarchy. This leads to people smashing in Starbucks windows in Oakland California and five-year old children speaking like Tony Soprano. Finding your own way is important. Thinking that your way is the only way, especially when you are operating on a worldview you developed in the eighth grade is preposterous. The fifties gave us McCarthy, but the sixties paved the way for people like Snooky believing they have a legitimate worldview.
Of course the 60’s was just the murky origin of this disastrous age. You cannot hold the origin completely to blame for the eventual outcome. At any point along the line, culture could have chosen to learn the valuable things the 1960s had to teach us, learn from the mistakes made, and move on. Instead the circus continues. Looking back you can see the pattern. It begins in the elite, on the fringe, people in controversial movies or in the lyrics of controversial music making statements that most people find distasteful, people treating each other in ways that would be completely out-of-place in the normal world. Soon it finds its way to television and the radio. Not very long after that it is in the office, and then on Capitol Hill, and then at your dinner table. It wasn’t so long ago that people would have marched in an angry mob on the producers of some of the most popular shows on television. It wasn’t that long ago, that people were actually insulted by music that constantly refers to women as “bitches” or advocates mindless slaughter of large groups of people. It wasn’t that long ago that Miley Cyrus would now be out on the street trying to figure out where things went wrong. (just an example)
In the end our society, and most of us bear part of the collective guilt, decided not to stop this progression. Maybe we are okay with the way things turned out…somehow, I doubt it.
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