We are currently in a very distressing time. We have a global pandemic that has physically disconnected us from each other, yet, humans seem to have been emotionally disconnecting from each other for a long time now. We are facing a pandemic that has changed itself into an epidemic of rudeness.
I have seen it most recently walking through a grocery store. A poor employee getting scolded for the shortage of toilet paper.
“When will you have another shipment then?”
“I don’t know, Ma’am.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?! How can you not know?!”
This customer knew the shortage of toilet paper was out of the control of the employee, but she still decided to be cold and take out her frustration on them. This is a daily occurrence all over the world.
The rudeness epidemic does not discriminate on age, gender, or sexual orientation. Humans seem to emotionally detach from one another and look down or treat each other unkindly with no good reason for it.
It has proven to be easier to be wrapped up in yourself and only pay attention to your needs, your feelings, and your time than it is to think about how others will feel or what others needs are. Humans are in a constant frenzy about the next step and how that step will benefit them. We are very scarcely stopping to think about how we can be beneficial to others. All of this leads to a culmination of feelings that gush out as sour and mean words when met with anything that does not meet their expectations.
Digging deep into our natural makeup, humans are naturally egotistical and self-centered. Thomas Hobbes, deemed “The founding father of modern political philosophy,” was one of the many to look into human nature.
He proclaimed all mankind has a “perpetual and restless desire of power after power.” There is an ongoing feeling of being superior and wanting to be above. We are above the older man working at the gas station, above the teenage fast-food worker, above the young man working at the grocery store who made the mistake of not knowing when the next shipment for a particular item will be.
We are taught a golden rule from a very young age which many do not follow as they grow up. It is common knowledge that rude children turn into rude adults, but why are the children rude in the first place?
Pediatrician Dr. Brian Orr strongly believes and describes in his article “Squashing the rudeness epidemic,” the child is mirroring the adults in their lives. A child’s first and biggest teacher is their parent. Many tend to forget children are sponges and can soak up every bad habit their parent’s display. Adults also tend to not realize the environment they create for their child is very crucial to their upbringing. If the child is enveloped in an insulting, impolite, and abusive environment they will, nonetheless, grow up to be a jerk who yells at grocery store clerks.
You may ask yourself “What can I do to help? How can one person make a difference? How can I be the ray of sunshine in these dark times?”
But the answer is simple- be kind.
Let’s take it back to basics and make use of “Please” and “Thank you.” Hold the door open for the person behind you instead of hearing them thump into it moments after you walk in. If you see someone reaching for something on the top shelf, take it down for them if you can reach it with no problem. Smile at someone instead of looking away. Don’t hoard milk or toilet paper. Be more compassionate with retail workers and understand that some things are out of their hands. Stop focusing just on your own issues and check on your friends. Share some encouraging words with someone you know is going through some tough times.
Be mindful. Be empathetic. Be kind.
The egotistical nature of the human normally does not need a push in order to be brought to light, but in times like a pandemic, we are rampant with rudeness. Though we cannot do much to help others at this time, with an urgency I plead we all step into each other’s shoes and treat people with more kindness.