I am taking part in this year's Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This is my submission for M ...
My daily life seems filled with many more examples of ill-mannered behaviour than good manners. Yes, the absence of basic good manners such as greeting one another, saying 'please' or 'thank you' is part of this, but what I'm really worried about is that hardcore ill-manneredness is on the up.
Its become a common occurence to see that level of pricklyness where finger-pointing and 'don't you f***ing ...' is the immediate angry first response, despite a complete lack of reason for the reaction. I've watched too many people being brusque to the point of rudeness, then complaining about the behaviour they receive in return; let alone the frightening escalation into aggression, even violence, without cause or warning.
Initially, I assumed it was simply certain angry individuals and whilst not a great feeling, I wanted to believe it needn't be considered a reflection of society at large. But it seems to have become more prevelant. The sense of entitlement and the lack of tolerance which I believe underpins it, seems to be running rampant like a virus. What I find most disturbing (let alone hypocritical) is that those complaining the loudest about disrespect, are themselves the least respectful of their community, other people, property ... It seems to be all about the individual. During the 80s, we had the super rich who displayed this unattractive personality trait, but it appears to have spread through all levels and strata of our society. I wondered what sort of impact this was having on the more vulnerable in our society. I found the answer in this blog. This wonderfully eloquent Autistic woman describes being mimicked and mocked in a store by a couple of store employees. I simply cannot comprehend such ill-mannered behaviour. Please read about this vile experience and how great an impact it had, not only on her immediate emotions, but for days thereafter.
On the same day, I participated in a discussion about outdoor eating spaces. The discussion predominantly included views from those on opposing sides of the smoking and parental arenas. Smokers posited that the massive increase in outdoor spaces was a direct result of the ban on indoor smoking in pubs, bars and restaurants, specifically to cater for them. Non-smokers complained that they didn't want to have to sit inside in sunny weather in order to avoid smokers. Parents with children in tow certainly didn't want smokers smoking in outdoor spaces ... unless they - themselves - were smokers too. Smokers (with or without children) were unhappy they were being pressurised to not smoke in outdoor areas, despite these areas being intended - largely - for their use. They were even unhappier at being spoken of as stinky, selfish and social pariahs.
In an attempt to demonstrate to non-smokers that compromises are already having to be made, non-parents (and parents without children in tow) countered that they have long had to tolerate children in restaurants, despite feeling that they should be able to enjoy an adult-only experience. Their complaints included babies crying, mothers breast-feeding and small children being loud and boisterous. But instead of increased understanding and tolerance, everyone just bristled, certain that they - alone - were right. Worse, their 'rightness' was expressed in an increasingly ill-mannered way.
As one individual, there are limited ways I can make a difference, other than to display good manners, courtesy and respect to all. I have sought to intervene in altercations, but eventually realised that I wasn't being heard - the only person listening was me - in fact both parties were angry with me for interfering. Now I seek out and enjoy the rare positive examples - such as my recent experience of local buses where travellers call a cheery "thank you" to the driver as they exit - without exception.
I'm utterly stumped by it all ... and sad.
What is your experience of manners in society? Do you have any ideas on how to change my experience?