The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Thursday, April 4:
Americans are getting ruder.
So what’s it to you?
A survey from Public Agenda, a research group, finds that Americans are forgetting social etiquette if indeed they ever learned it. And we aren’t talking about using the salad fork for the main course.
As a nation we are fed up with cellphones ringing in church, universally understood hand signals of unfriendliness from speeding motorists and indifferent customer service. To err may be human, but to acknowledge and apologize? That’s, well … un-American.
Although Americans swiftly rallied together with random acts of kindness after Sept. 11, our interactions remain remarkably abrasive. About 79 percent in the telephone survey said a lack of respect and courtesy is a serious societal problem. Sixty-one percent believe things have gotten worse in recent years.
Given the number of persistent automated telemarketing calls that interrupt dinners across America, we’re surprised the outcry isn’t greater. Remember when it was considered bad manners to call someone at dinnertime, too late in the evening or early in the morning? Now the miracle of automated dialing technology makes it possible to be digitally rude, anonymous and unapologetic.
Now some of the outrage smacks of “good old days” syndrome. The older we get, the better things were. At least that’s the way we want to remember those days.
But whether things were better is irrelevant. What matters now is we feel that things are worse and that the other guy increasingly is to blame. Socially, that’s not a healthy sign, whether it is careless inattention or crass self-importance behind the affronts.
Clearly, it is time all of us take a refresher course in the do’s and don’ts if we can find the time between work, soccer practice, car pooling and school. Sort of a Rudeness Anonymous, where we can practice keeping both hands on the steering wheel, holding doors open for the person behind us and discreetly talking on cellphones.
© 2002, The Dallas Morning News
Visit The Dallas Morning News on the World Wide Web at https://www.dallasnews.com
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services