I was struck today by just how rude people are. Personally I believe that many of our current social ills such as anti-social behaviour in particular are the result of the priveliging of the individual rights over the rights of the community or if you like, the power of the 'I'. It seems that everyone these days and I mean this across genders, cultures and ages, is self-absorbed, self-obsessed, mean or just damn selfish in their attitude towards others. What has happened to our society such that it has become one where eveyone knows their rights but few know their responsibilities.
I believe the latter with a passion. Everyone knows what their rights are or what they believe their rights to be. The trouble is that so many people it seems to me exercise those rights without due consideration or concern to others. Rights do not mean that you can do what the hell you please. Your own personal privileges should be exercised with due consideration and respect to the rights of those around you. We seem to have forgotten that last part.
In particular I despair mostly when I consider young people today. I do consider myself to just fall within this bracket btw! So many are surly, ill-mannered and plain disrespectful that they do discredit to all young people. As an example, most young people it seems walk around with either ipods or MP3 headphones jammed in their ears or worse still those mobile phone earphone/microphone things, which immediately insulate them from what's around them, particularly other people. We seem to have got this down to an art as a society - the ability to shut out everyone else, to have our own space that we control, an invisible barrier through which none shall pass. A prime example of the same on the bus coming home tonight, with at least five people taking up a double seat when they only needed one. Sat there with their bags ready as an armed defense against any who sought the seat next to them, their faces either downcast or looking into the endless distance, that look of 'do you have to sit here?' scowling back at anyone who didn't get the obvious message of their body language. Worst still if you are the hapless person sat on the inside of a seat and need the other person to move in order to get out at your stop. Whatever happened to those simple and nice words, 'please' and 'thank you'? Why is it that whenever you ask someone to do something these days, which would not long ago have been considered a courtesy, it is now regarded as a monumental physical effort? Like getting up to allow the person on the seat next to you to get off the bus. Is it to much of a effort to stand for a moment and show the other person some due respect and courtesy?
Why do young people always have to shout when they are on their mobiles? The wonder of modern communications mean that you can talk normally and your voice will be carried imperceptibly half-way round the world! And why do people have to swear all the time? I don't per se mind bad language, provided its in context. But why every day to I have to have my ears berated by someone saying f***ing this or f***ing that. Whatever happened to that respect for other people?
Often if someone is following behind me, I will hold the door open for them. Rarely do I get a thanks. Am I here to hold the doors open for everybody else? Am I so unimportant that I do not deserve to be acknowledged for being there? What is so difficult about saying 'thank you' or 'thanks' or 'cheers' etc. They're simple words. They take a second to say. Yet what they mean is immense. They acknowledge the other person, they are the nicest compliment anyone will ever feel. It should feel good to say thank you and it makes the other person feel good too. It is mutually enriching. Damn it, its just courtesy!
Why do people always answer the 'phone that is ringing while you are stood in front of them. Could they not say, 'excuse me, can I just answer that?' or just let the 'phone ring? The fact that the ringing 'phone is privileged above the physical presence of someone else is another example of the rude and disrespectful society we have now. It seems ironic to me that technology that should bring us closer together like the 'phone is used in the arsenal of weapons to hold back interaction with other people.
These are just a few examples. However, they are illustrative of a deeper problem in my view. The reason why so many people are so disenfranchised from society today is because they don't interact with it. We have lost the art and pleasure of social intercourse. We can't it seems bring ourselves to even extend the commonest courtesy to our fellow man because that would mean that we would actually have to acknowledge them. If we don't acknowledge them, they are not like us. They're not as important, they're a lesser person. Its easier to shout at them, to hit them or just ignore them. We are not them. We interact with this society when we want something from it, when it can give us something we need.
This latter point I am making is I passionately believe the most serious fault with our current society and the reason why we have such problems with anti-social behaviour. We have become disconnected from each other, isolated and uncaring. It is a sad state of affairs but it certainly doesn't have to be like this. It can be a better place. Everyone needs to make the effort though.