Blog: Good Manners, R.I.P.

Good manners, respect and kindness seem to be on short supply these days.

Whatever became of good manners, common courtesy and breeding?  In this global community of ours rudeness seems to have become the order of the day.  I happened to read an article in Huffington Post a couple of days ago and noticed there were more than 100 comments.  It was appalling how many readers resorted to foul language, name-calling and Barbarian behavior in their responses.  I think political correctness has boomeranged.  The gender-specific "ess" has been banned.  One is no longer a stewardess, she is a flight attendant.  A waitress is now a server.  But the idea that the population has taken sensitivity training is absurd.  People are getting meaner and ruder.

In my youth, parents, teachers and older siblings often reminded us to say please, thank you, never speak with a mouthful of food, never to slurp soup or make that annoying sound through the straw, sit up straight and never to hold the fork like a caveman.  They warned that if you couldn't find something nice to say, it was better to remain silent.  While standing in the checkout line at Walmart a few days ago I was nearly knocked over by a group of rowdy children.  They circled their mother screaming, grabbing candy and demanding that she pay for it.  The demands became ear-splitting.  The mother was too busy texting on her cell phone to discipline them.  It was bedlam.  The gentleman ahead of me turned to me frowning and said, "I'd rather go back to VietNam than stand in this line."  I told him that I'd never been there but it was beginning to sound pretty good to me too.

The following day I was stopped at a red light in Marina del Rey.  When the light changed the driver behind me honked twice and passed me on the right.  What a glorious comeuppance when the next light turned red.  That didn't stop him from continuing on his mad dash to the head of the line.  At each light, he repeated his routine until he was four cars ahead of me.  Unfortunately for him and his new black Porsche he pulled to the right and got stuck behind a row of parked vehicles.  Nobody would let him out.  I stopped and gave him the Queens' wave, allowing him to maneuver back into the lane ahead of me.  Being polite to a jerk always makes my day.

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William Bauer February 22, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Dear Den Mom, Rudeness does seem to run rampant these days. Responding in kind to these folks only brings us down to their level. Politeness to a jerk always seem to make me feel better too.
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 01:45 AM
@WilliamBauer A closed mouth gathers no feet. I'm so glad to hear you react the same as I do. It always gives me great satisfaction to help an idiot make more of a fool of himself by being kind. Many thanks for your comment. I appreciate you.
Fritzi February 22, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Irene, is it any wonder? The kids today live on Facebook, Twitter, and their cell phones. They don't know how to interact with people or look a person in the eye. This is a "me first" generation and their parents don't have a clue of what they're up to. I thank God I grew up when I did!
Bob Blanchard February 22, 2013 at 02:38 AM
Sadly, part of the moral decay of society today stems primarily from a lack of respect. If young people were taught to respect the rights, property and privacy of others, they would have a better tolerance for others and people different from themselves. Unfortunately, since we have not had the draft for many years, young people older than 18 haven't had to learn respect for "rank" and for elders that they must learn in the military. Talking on cell phones in public places needs to be added near the top of the list. How terribly annoying to be eating in a restaurant and have to listen to other people discussing all manner of things without any regard for those around them. The Wal-mart kids without manners are the adults of tomorrow without manners. But you are absolutely once again on target when you smile and wave to a perp thereby frustrating the hell out of them and giving you the satisfaction of having won the mental battle. Keep up the good work.
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 02:59 AM
@Fritzi You're so right. Out of our public high school class of 127, you may recall we had 34 straight-A, honor roll students who pledged allegiance to our flag, who competed well, participated as teams, went to church, joined in after-school sports, walked to school (or rode bikes) and were an active part of the community. I never ever remember being driven anywhere. We walked or road the trolley. We were proud of our school, our neighborhood and our country. What spirit! Thanks for your comment and for being a lifelong friend.
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 03:25 AM
@BobBlanchard Once again you have given us great insight into societal problems and I thank you for all your support. Sadly, we have all the advantages of technology without self-discipline, tolerance, respect and education. We've become a nation of strangers, isolated from society by our gadgets and machines. I often refer to my older brother who, as a child, was Dennis the Menace. He went off to military school as a teenager and died a General a few years ago. He was highly motivated, tolerant, respectful and caring. I understand what you mean regarding the draft. The military teaches discipline which is sorely lacking in today's youth. There are so many more single-parent families as well and it's sometimes very difficult for a single parent to handle the demands of raising a child nowadays. My Dad came home at 6:30 every night and we ate dinner together as a family. We were expected to run errands and do chores around the house in addition to getting our homework done on time. We need to instill leadership qualities in our children and grandchildren. I always appreciate your astute comments. Thank you.
chloe February 22, 2013 at 05:11 AM
People don't know how to interact with each other anymore because their heads are stuck in their computers and phone. I work in a restaurant and its disgusting how little kids (like 6 or 7) act. And they have iPhones! I'm sorry but a kid that young doesn't née their own phone. Think about if a person from the 50's traveled through time to 2013 and realized that everyone has a device that can fit in their pockets that has the same amount of technology that NASA had when they shot the first rocket into space, an that has the answer to any question you could have but we use it to take and post pictures of our food and cat.
SoCalMan February 22, 2013 at 05:18 AM
Wow. A bunch of Debbie Downers. I have positive outlook on life and therefore don't really encounter the problems outlined in these comments. People tend to draw in negativity when they operate with negativity. Operate with a positive outlook and you'll tend to surround yourself with positive folks. When you truly operate with kindness, rather than simply preach it, you'll find that kind people tend to be drawn towards you and they block the view of the rude, bitter people.
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 05:31 AM
@chloe You bring up a very good point about having all that technology available in a cell phone. It must be difficult working in a restaurant where people come in with young children who have iphones at that age. I imagine there is very little interaction between people -- they are probably texting other people, taking pictures or playing games. It bothers me too that people rely on the Internet to get answers to questions that sometimes are not accurate -- there is no critical thinking involved. You are a very smart person to realize the inherent dangers of this great technology, Chloe. I'm flattered that you took the time to comment and added your own perpective to this issue. I wish you much success and many blessings. Thank you.
Bob Blanchard February 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM
I don't know what world SoCalMan is living in, but it is not the real world. I resent being referred to as negative merely because I comment on what is going on around me everyday, everywhere. He says that he "doesn't encounter" any of that kind of negativity or rudeness. You need to be in a check out line of a grocery store, MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS, when the person in front of you is so busy talking on her cell phone that she doesn't hear the clerk asking a question and is holding up those of us behind her while she tries to talk and fumble through her purse for her money or credit card. How Rude! Welcome to the real world!
SoCalMan February 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM
Bob - You seem very angry and hostile. Please don't slap any kids on airplanes. I observe the occasional rudeness, but for the most part I find most people to be quite pleasant. I'm sorry you've surrounded yourself with such rude individuals or visit places where rude people congregate. I hope life and the people around you improve. Cheers!
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 03:33 PM
@SoCalMan Your comment to Bob about slapping kids on airplanes is a perfect example of the thrust of my post. That comment to a stranger was not really necessary, was it? Maybe you can share with Bob and us places where you find the most polite and well-adjusted, positive people. It is definitely not at the parking lot near Trader Joe's nor Whole Foods. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Ilona Saari February 22, 2013 at 04:22 PM
I've longed complained about the lack of manners in today's world, tho I still find most people pleasant - even strangers. I was part of a volunteer tutoring program at the Lankershim Elementary school for 8 years which was 90% Hispanic and the kids, all poor, working class, seemed to have been taught please and thank you, etc. It was a joy to be w/ them and help them w/ their studies. On the other hand, when I dealt w/ private school kids - they seemed to have a more 'entitled' air, as did their parents - AND their parents seemed to believe that since they were paying so much for their kids' schooling, they weren't responsible for teaching their kids manners and ethics. They expected the teachers to do that, which I found appalling - teachers of young children often include manners, but it's the responsibility of the parents to educate their children on being a polite, kind, good, ehtical person. But maybe we're just all cranky, old people. <g>
Ilona Saari February 22, 2013 at 04:23 PM
"ethical" == I'm beginning to sound like my grandmother re: the "younger generation." ;o)
SoCalMan February 22, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Really, Irene. Shall we go through your posts and look at the nasty 'humor' you've posted repeatedly under the guise of being funny? Your Christmas post comes readily to mind. It was a joke. If Bob took offense my apologies however his reply to me was rather insulting. But, of course, you overlook that, I suppose. I'm sure your Christmas post was a joke and not a mean-spirited jab, just as I was making a joke and supplying an example of someone behaving badly. Your holier-than-thou nonsense may work on some but it falls on deaf ears with me. Cheers!
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 05:05 PM
@IlonaSaari Brava! It's so good to hear that there are caring educators who take extra time helping kids to become positive and productive. Sadly, bullying still exists in our classrooms and playgrounds. It also exists online to a great degree. Thanks for all you give back to the community. The force be with you! xoxoxo
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 05:06 PM
@IlonaSaari Aren't we all!
Geraldo Cruz February 22, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Irene to be honest I saw the picture and thought this would be about our first lady breaking protocol when she visited with the Queen! Yes people are becoming meaner. I haven't noticed a problem with younger people though. It seems to be the middle aged men who are too loud on their phones and women who let their kids run around like little brats. This isn't a sexist thing to say, only my personal observations. Drivers are the worst though (and I do mean men and women both). I love the people who drive so close to your car that you have to weight stopping for a light or going through so they won't hit you. As far as people like this SoCal Man? You don't owe anyone an answer. He is only trying to rile you up so pity his lonliness and move on. You don't have to respond to every loser and besides don't you have to get over to the WSJ now?
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 05:31 PM
@G.Cruz Thank you so much for the vote of confidence! I actually had to re-check my so-called Christmas blogpost to see what was so offensive to SoCalMan. It was a poem asking Santa for gifts on behalf of some public figures who are icons of our society. It was meant as a joke. Our elected representatives work for us and are not above the law. Our government is broken and many of the people listed have contributed to the breakdown of our bicameral legislative system. The alphabet network people are getting paid much more than they are worth -- when they show their displeasure on camera they should think about how lucky they are to have a job at all. No, I do not actually work at WSJ. I enjoy contributing because it's fun. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I'm glad to see that you use your name instead of going under the guise of a fictitious name like "SoCalMan". I have my suspicions about his identity but I may never know for sure.
Irene DeBlasio February 22, 2013 at 05:40 PM
@SoCalMan Oh please keep on spreading the good vibes and joy. We can all use your uplifting spirit to truly make us soar.
Bob Blanchard February 22, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Unfortunately, SoCalMan, doesn't get out much or he would recognize the examples of unsocial behavior that have been given by the various responders to this blog and not criticize them as being just negative expressions. Obviously, those examples must be acceptable to him, so we know where he stands. Irene, you may choose to give him the Queen's wave, I think I have a different kind of wave for him. He can go back to reading about Heidi.
SoCalMan February 22, 2013 at 06:19 PM
It's nice to see Bob proving the point that people are rude by being rude himself. I would respond to your negative theory but I choose to see the good in the people and choose not to focus on Negative Nancy behavior that you are exhibiting. I hope you find a way to navigate out of such negativity. It must be depressing. The world is a wonderful place. Life is far too short to focus your energies on searching out the bad apples. Biting from the sweet apples is so much more enjoyable. Cheers.
Geraldo Cruz February 22, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Lest I forget, cheers to you for having your name appear first this morning on WSJ Best of the Web!. Well done, Ms. Irene!
Irene DeBlasio February 23, 2013 at 12:13 AM
@G.Cruz Aside from Patch, Best of the Web is my favorite place to contribute. I see my post is beginning to disappear now. Many thanks.
Miki Henderson February 24, 2013 at 02:16 AM
This blog has had more comments than any I can rememebr, good job Irene, you hit a nerve, and thank you!
Irene DeBlasio February 24, 2013 at 03:23 AM
@MikiHenderson I'm so flattered that you took the time to comment, Miki. We don't always agree on politics and I know it would be very easy to ignore my post. This is what makes you so very special. You try to find positive things to say -- which means you believe in good old-fashioned manners too. You Rock!
SoCalMan February 26, 2013 at 11:39 AM
I'm flattered that the two of you have given so much thought to me. And I like how G. Cruz implies that I'm a "loser". So much for having manners, G. Cruz. I guess you prove Irene's point about the death of manners. I saw on another story that you questioned my commenting at 3am. I'm up at 3am because I hit the gym at 4am so that I can be at the hospital by 6am and in surgery by 7am. So, yeah, your theory that I have no life is totally off base. As to my name, it's not really relevant. Most of you comment with your real names and frankly it hasn't improved the quality of your comments or your manners. But, if you'd like to know my name, just have the courage to ask directly, irene. Passive-aggressive isn't cute on a date and it isn't cute in a blogger, either. It's amazing how many people can be so rude yet demand manners from others. But, I guess it's how Americans have operated for centuries, eh?
SoCalMan February 26, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Oh and Irene here's what I said, "I'm sure your Christmas post was a joke and not a mean-spirited jab, just as I was making a joke (in my comment to Bob) and supplying an example of someone behaving badly." In my comment I also apologized to Bob if he took my joke seriously. And I want to thank you for confirming what I knew - your post was a joke, not an effort to be mean. Everyone exhibits bad manners was the point of my comments. Most of you proved it with how quickly you each resorted to nastiness, mob mentality, and innuendo with your comments. Hopefully, it will serve as a reminder that we are all rude from time to time and that we all need to improve our manners. Cheers!
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