Karla News

Rudeness in American Society

Michael Perry

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” After the release of a recent survey conducted by Public Agenda Online, it is surprising that all of America hasn’t gone silent (“Land Of The Rude”). The survey shows that our country feels that there is a serious lack of consideration for other people when it comes to manners and politeness towards one another. The problem spans from shopping centers to highways and there’s no clear solution in sight. An in depth analysis and comparison of the rudeness described by Public Agenda Online with the situations of rudeness experienced in my everyday life will justify the article’s claims of rudeness being out of control.

The time that I have spent at home has taught me that the majority of my friends lack event a basic understanding of manners. Friends get too comfortable in my presence and don’t know when they are invading personal space. They come over unannounced or assume that I want to spend time with them simply because I’m not busy at a particular moment. Often, they just forget that I need to dedicate a portion of my day to school work or resting. Furthermore, they don’t think twice about taking something that doesn’t belong to them. Raiding my refrigerator seems to be a popular thing to do among friends who come to visit as well. They don’t hesitate to throw open the refrigerator door and start rummaging for their favorite food to eat. However, it can be justly inferred that my peers are not solely to blame for their poor behavior. Pubic Agenda Online (“Land Of The Rude”) shows that Americans today feel that the adult population isn’t taking the necessary responsibility of educating their children when it comes to manners through their in depth survey concerning rudeness. My younger sister never learned that calling someone up late at night or reading a letter over someone’s shoulder could be regarded as an act of rudeness until she was reprimanded for engaging in such actions. However, after she became aware that what she was doing was wrong, it rarely occurred a second time. Using education as a weapon against rudeness could help to combat the negative results displayed in the survey conducted by Public Agenda Online (“Land Of The Rude”).

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If you really want some exposure to rudeness in America, then dress yourself up in red and kaki and take a drive over to your local Target store sometime during the next Christmas season. I worked there for one year of my life and never have I seen so many disrespectful people congregated together in a single location. The big red bull’s eye seems to draw them in like a magnet. During my one year of employment, I worked in various locations throughout the store. The toy department was especially bad. Parents would let their untamed children run free, where they would get disturbing amounts of satisfaction from destroying shelf fixtures and ripping boxes open. Parents would follow the lead of their children and throw a toaster or notebook on the ground after realizing that it was a few cents more than they anticipated. After ten minutes of savagely ripping apart an aisle, both the parent and the child set out on a quest to give me, the sales floor representative, a head ache that would last for an entire week. They would demand that you look in the back room for their toy that had been sold out for days. When you explain to them that you can’t do it, they curse and leave the store, only to come back next week and repeat the entire process all over again. It’s a vicious cycle. The cash register was also an ideal place to experience the rudeness existing in retail stores. Customers with wagons piled up with enough goods to support a small country would casually walk into the lane labeled “express, six items or fewer please.” Once their total was displayed, the typical rude customer would hold up the line to fight and argue every price on their receipt. After twenty minutes of incoherent screaming, the customer would storm out of the store and leave you with all of the merchandise to put back on the shelf. The events I lived though at Target are classic examples of rudeness that exist in American retail stores.

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The occurrence of rudeness in my own life is not far off from the impolite situations described by the authors of recent newspaper articles and literary passages. CNN Online (“Rudeness Getting Worse”), paints a perfect picture of rudeness when they describe how “You walk around bleating into that cell phone as if you’re the only person for blocks. You curse like Madonna on Letterman, your kids think the world is their personal playground, and you drive like a maniac.” Such cases of rudeness took place everyday that I worked at Target. The article explained that there was no united thought on how to fix the problem of rudeness in society, but the idea of educating individuals on their poor behavior by pointing it out to them was supported by 22% of the people surveyed. Steve Rushin also makes an argument for educating children in his article “Hip Unchecked.” He explains our society’s issues regarding rudeness when he describes how a five year old boy wears and offensive t-shirt without any shame, while holding his father’s hand. If this father took the time to teach his son about the rudeness associated with his clothing it would be a step in the right direction. The same could be said for the parents of a young man who drives recklessly in an article entitled “Bumper-Sticker Bravado” by Michael Perry. The young man displays a fearless attitude towards the world, but fails to realize that his position is one that can be conceived as arrogant by those around him. Additional instances of rudeness can be seen in The Sacramento Bee (“We’re Impolite”). The article cites examples of restaurant owners being verbally attacked for running out of paper towels in the men’s room. The violent and irrational behavior discussed in this article is identical to the reactions of ill tempered shoppers at the Target store where I worked. It’s clear that strong similarities exist between the impolite situations in my own life and the rudeness discussed in other literary works.

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Significant literary works show a strong resemblance to the rudeness in my everyday life. Both events in the workplace and my own home have proven to be breeding grounds for the same forms of impolite behavior that plagues the rest of our nation. While there has yet to be any solid solution to help combat the poor behavior of the American people, education can certainly help to rectify our current situation. Rudeness is a serious issue that must be addressed, before all of us have nothing nice to say, and our country is left in an uncomfortable silence.

Works Cited

“Rudeness Getting Worse.” CNN Online3 Apr. 2002. 30 Aug. 2002


“Land of the Rude.” Public Agenda Online3 Apr. 2002. 30 Aug. 2002


“We’re Impolite.” The Sacramento Bee 3 Apr. 2002. 30 Aug. 2002


Perry, Michael. “Bumper-Sticker Bravado. Everything’s An Argument. Lunsford, Andrea

A.. John J. Ruskiewicz, and Keith Walters. New York: Beford/St. Martin’s, 2001.

451- 53.

Rushin, Steve. “Hip Unchecked. Everything’s An Argument. Lunsford, Andrea

A.. John J. Ruskiewicz, and Keith Walters. New York: Beford/St. Martin’s, 2001.

602 – 03.