In venturing out last night to go to a concert, I observed some really annoying and selfish behavior. Let me give you some examples.
- I encountered road construction. This is one of those weird, unsafe things where traffic entering the Interstate can’t just safely merge and you have to yield to oncoming traffic. Traffic cones are set up sporadically to show you where to go. The rule is that you queue up behind other cars and go one at a time. In two separate instances, I saw two vehicles that were third or more in the queue simply pull out through a hole in the traffic cones and enter the Interstate with no respect to the order that should have been followed and could’ve caused an accident for the vehicle that was supposed to be merging. One of the vehicles was a stretch Hummer. Take the most obnoxious vehicle already (Hummer) and magnify it by five. Seems about right for a stretch Hummer to do that.
- In the event that I saw last night (comedy show in a large auditorium) signs and announcements were made to please refrain from filming the performers and to not use flash photography. Just about every person had their phones out and constant, obnoxious strobing flashes were a distraction throughout the show If you’re in a dark auditorium and the only light is on the stage where the performer is, why would you not turn off your flash since in that situation the flash does nothing but illuminate the back of the heads of the people in front of you? Your flashes literally do nothing except annoy and distract the people around you. Last year, Apple was granted a patent that would disable camera phones in certain locations. I doubt they’ll ever implement it but it is my dream feature. They could compromise and watermark videos shot in certain locations with your phone number and email address in the center of the screen and disable the flash and I’d be happy. I’m with Louis CK … put your phone down and live your life.
- In the same event, loud drunken hecklers ruined the last five to ten minutes of the show with their obnoxious comments.
- Leaving the event from a crowded parking garage, it’s polite to let one vehicle trying to pull out in front of you as you leave as it allows everyone to leave in an orderly fashion. I witnessed multiple events of people blocking people from leaving.
These aren’t isolated cases. My wife works in retail and she sees rude customers that begin conversations at the escalation point without even starting at the “Can you help me with my problem?” stage. The problem in every one of these cases is the worship of the self above all else. In every case, people know what they should do, they know that the rules benefit everyone equally, and they choose to ignore them for their own gratification. It’s not like doing the right thing in these cases causes some massive inconvenience or requires some huge personal sacrifice; these are all literally events that require a minimal effort. Be quiet, be courteous, be polite, be respectful. The Golden Rule exists in most faiths and one could argue is the very basis for any morality system. These are all things that most of us are taught in kindergarten.You’ve heard the saying “It’s the least I could do”? This is quite literally the least someone could do. However, they do not do it and must not feel bad about that. I’d wager most of these people who engage in these activities do not even perceive what colossal, selfish cretins they really are because this behavior is so ingrained now that if you called people out on it most of them wouldn’t even comprehend what you were talking about.
I saw people on a plane last week who were sitting in first class with me and they were on the first row with their shoes off and their feet on the wall of the plane. Consider that for a moment: you’re sitting in an area that is the most comfortable (and expensive) part of a plane in the seats that will allow you to be the first on or off the aircraft and that still isn’t good enough so you have to make yourself at home that much more? At what point will I see folks who are just sitting in their boxers once we hit 10,000 feet? These folks don’t even stop and consider “You know, I’m in close quarters with a hundred or more people for the next couple of hours. Maybe I keep my shoes on and sit like an adult until I get home.” Or how about the people that bring the most pungent food on a plane and proceed to eat it mid-flight. To me it’s no different that if you lean over and squeeze out a huge fart. You’ve introduced an unpleasant smell into a confined space but hey, at least you’re happy.
You might be wondering “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is it’s endemic to our society. It’s the root of what’s wrong with us as a species. I’m not advocating giving up all material possessions and moving to Calcutta to help the poor but are we so arrogant as a species that we can’t simply observe simple societal niceties as manners, politeness, and respect for others? Why do people put themselves above everyone else? Why do worship ourselves?
Has it always been like this? Is this a new thing in society? Is it just my fellow Americans? Are people this rude the world over? Let me know on Twitter @veryuncool.