Saturday, November 12, 2022

An Epidemic of Rudeness in the Land

In stores, in offices, even in the White House, ordinary courtesy seems to be going out of style. For a look at what's going on and why…

In Atlanta, an angry woman shopper hurls a box of shoes at a clerk and stalks out of the store.

In New York, two elderly women are spun out of a revolving door and thrown across the lobby of an apartment building by young people who whirl the door around too rapidly.

In Los Angeles, a woman waits in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles for 45 minutes, only to have a clerk slam the window in her face.

At the White House, consumer representatives complain so harshly to the President about fuel prices that the President's consumer adviser feels compelled to apologize in writing for their conduct.

Are Americans behaving more rudely toward each other these days?

Many insist that discourtesy is on the increase, and they blame it on all sorts of causes-pressures of an uncertain economy, overcrowding, lack of training in home and schools, a growth of self-centeredness. In fact, many Americans feel that rudeness has reached epidemic proportions.

* * * 

Would it surprise you if I said that the president referred to in the White House paragraph was Jimmy Carter? Though I left his name out, as well as the name of his consumer advisor, everything else that you read is verbatim. It's the introduction to a longer article that appeared in U.S. News & World Report on June 25, 1979. 

The subheads, if you were to keep reading, tell the story.

--Selfishness is on the rise.

--Well-mannered young?

--Gasoline frenzy.

--Regional rudeness.

Across the page is an interview with Jonathan Freedman, a professor of psychology at Columbia University. That story is titled, "Why All the Discourtesy? People Are Angry"

With the megaphone of social media, the impression I had when I read this is that things were pretty tame back then compared to what we're seeing now. What do you think?

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