Public Agenda released a nationwide study that shows how crazy drivers, cell phone abuse, lousy service, out-of-control parents at youth sporting events, swearing and other ills are taking their toll on our society. Most Americans feel rudeness is on the rise in our society and many are willing to accept some of the blame.
Unhappiness came from big cities and small towns in all geographic regions as a large majority of Americans said they believe life truly was more civil in the past. And the lack of manners is taking a toll on businesses, they say, that choose to pay lip service to customer service.
April 12, 2002 - Survey on Rudeness Overlooks Two Main Reasons for the Increase
In a recent survey conducted by Public Agenda, Americans said rude behavior has increased and mentioned several reasons why, including demands on our time, crowds, and a feeling of anonymity. However, the president of the Cuss Control Academy believes the increase is chiefly the result of our high expectations and our sense of entitlement to do as we please.
"We complain about life's fast pace, yet we expect everything to be fast," says James V. O'Connor, who is also the author of Cuss Control : The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing. "We've become accustomed to the speed and convenience of 24-hour grocery stories, ATM machines, cell phones and computers. Our email mentality demands instant results. When we don't get what we expect quickly and easily, we become irritable and act rudely and speak crudely."
As a guest last night on WTTW-TV's "Chicago Tonight" addressing the Public Agenda survey, he added that we feel entitled to do what we want do and say what we want to say, regardless of its impact on others.
"We are fortunate to have unprecedented personal freedoms, thanks to the demands for greater rights and the various liberation movements of the sixties and seventies. But our sense of entitlement has evolved into a me-first attitude that allows us to butt in line, honk at other drivers, and demand the attention of busy waiters and sales clerks."
A step in the right direction, he believes, is recognizing that all of us, in our own ways, are struggling to get through life.
"Let someone else go first, or simply wait your turn. Being courteous, helpful, and respectful is a lot more gratifying than pushing someone out of your way."
He also suggests that we learn to appreciate the technical and medical advances that have given us unparalleled speed, convenience, quality and health.
"We are like spoiled kids with high expectations. However, our families and jobs also expect more from us, so we do have pressures. If life really has become more stressful, then the need for us to be civil to each other is greater."