It’s sometimes amazing how much one can learn about society from places such as Reddit and Imgur.
A prime example of this occurred a few days ago when an Imgur user posted a picture of a sign found outside of a Virginia coffee shop. Instead of listing one flat price for a cup of coffee, the sign offered a graduated price scale depending on the manners of the customer:
Judging from the picture, it seems that the shop grew tired of serving customers who consistently failed to treat the staff with what we once knew as common courtesy.
But common courtesy is on life support beyond this one coffee shop. According to a 2015 Rasmussen report, 75 percent of American adults believe the population is “becoming ruder and less civilized.”
Why is it that many people can no longer greet one another and have a “please” or “thank you” on their tongues?
According to Neil Sinclair at the Telegraph, part of the decline in courtesy may be due to stress on the importance of the individual:
“[T]here is a lot more focus on the individual – as if personal wants and needs somehow trump everything else. Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to have personal awareness, but unless individuals can master the art of living in a complete vacuum, they’re going to need to learn to get along with others at some point.”
Sinclair goes on to say that the decline of manners may also be due to the fact that parents aren’t teaching them, a fact which Dr. Alex Packer concurs in his book How Rude!
Based on results of a survey conducted for his book, Dr. Packer found that “adults seem to think that rudeness in kids is the result of changing societal conditions, bad influences in the media, and the failure of adults to teach proper etiquette and behavior.”
One specific survey response declared: “Parents have become lazy in teaching their children appropriate behavior. A lot of parents would rather be their child’s friend than their parent.”
American culture has grown increasingly child-centered in recent years. Parents have been trained to believe that catering to their child’s needs, focusing on their child’s desires, and carting their children around to their chosen activities is the best way to raise them.
If we want to see common courtesy revived in the U.S., do parents need to begin raising their children to understand that they are not the center of the universe?
Image Credit: Margaret in Minnesota bit.ly/1eBd9Ks
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.