I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare that people were already comfortable with being rude to others long before Trump was elected president. I will say, though, that having a president who spends his days insulting people on Twitter does go a long way toward empowering people to do the same. But, the lack of civility started way before Trump and extends into every part of life, not just politics. The political side of it just gets all the news.
Anyone who works with the public has to have noticed that people say please and thank you a lot less than they used to. It’s amazing the number of times I’m on the phone and at the end of the transaction, there is complete silence as I’m waiting for the thank you and the other person seems confused as to why I am still on the line. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has seen the people at Starbucks who won’t end their cell phone call long enough to place an order and act like it’s an imposition to pause for a second to give a drink order and then go back to the call for the duration of the transaction. I was cut off on the road last night because another driver wanted to assert his dominance and not let me merge on to the road. This happens a lot. Kids are no longer taught how to act in public. Kids run wild in inappropriate places and the parents feel insulted if someone calls them on it and asks them to parent their children. Social media is full of people insulting everyone who has a differing opinion. You know this if you’ve ever read the comments. Never read the comments.
Take all of that, add in hatred of people not like you, add empowerment from your leaders and we get the world we are living in now. A world of people who already decided social niceties no longer matter and now are empowered to go further. We are moving from general rudeness to outright hostility. Every day on Facebook we see friends and family on Facebook empowered to spew hatred towards others based on religion, race, sexual orientation, politics, etc. I guess that is good. I’d rather know who the bigots are than have them hidden under politeness.
We have now reached the point that a call for civility is met with resistance. We have decided that if one side is rude and nasty, then we should be rude and nasty as well. I’m not saying not to protest, not to speak your mind. I’m not saying not to point out when someone is a racist or a homophobe. I’m just saying try being a little nicer in your day-to-day life. Say please. Thank people who help you. Put your phone away while ordering your coffee Smile at people. We can’t fix the fact that our leaders are terrible people, but we can make the rest of the world a little better.