On the sources and manifestations of rudeness.


Rudeness? It just may be the economy, stupid.

Is Rudeness Inevitable In A Service Economy? (Consumerist)

The funny thing about a service economy, writes Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal, is that it’s created a world where people who interact with the public are deliberately trained to be rude and compassionless. She thinks it’s partly because we threw out manners right as we reached a cultural moment where we interact with strangers more than ever. But that’s only part of it–she also notes that clerks are trained to get in your face and aggressively push for higher sales, and that the dreaded “Dead Face”–that stony look that’s used to shut down any communication at all–is probably taught by consultants as an efficient way to handle people.

Cusk’s essay is worth the time.

The Age of Rudeness, by Rachel Cusk (New York Times)

As the social contract frays, what does it mean to be polite?

In a world as unmannerly as this one, how is it best to speak?

There’s no need to be rude, I say to the man in the packed hall at passport control. There are people everywhere, and his job is to send them into the right queues. I have been watching him shout at them. I have watched the obsessive way he notices them, to pick on them. There’s no need to be rude, I say.

His head jerks around.

You’re rude, he counters. You’re the one who’s rude.