Contrarian conclusions from a lifetime of travelling on the river of time.
"Storytelling is our only boat for sailing on the river of time" (Ursula LeGuin)
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
When did Society Become so Inconsiderate? Part II
A while back I wrote about Lynne Truss' marvellous little British book 'Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door)'.
Recently I got hold of Charlotte Hays' 2013 American equivalent: 'When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question'. While Hays' book is very droll, its wry humour is laced with pathos. With regret for a time now passing when manners counted for something, Hays examines what is increasingly becoming the norm in personal behaviour:-
"Tattoos. Unwed pregnancy.
Giving up on shaving…showering…and employment. These used to be signatures of a
trashy individual. Now they’re the new norm. What happened to etiquette,
hygiene, and self restraint?"
Ms Hays skewers the way the wealthy and the trendy have eagerly adopted the mores of the lowest rung in society. Life is now full of loud and abusive cellphone conversations that curdle one's innards, outrageous and impossible-to-ignore dress sense that makes a nudist lifestyle look appealing, and eating habits in public that Elvis Presley even in his obese late life would have thought gross.
She reminds me as a senior how much I hate kids in shops using my first name without permission, how illiterate TV and radio announcers are becoming, how 'reality TV' focuses on anything but that we can admire in a person, how infrequently we ever get offered a seat in a crowded waiting room or bus any more, and how little respect the wisdom of age gets.
She concludes: 'If we are ever to slay the beast of White Trash Normal, we must regain the sensibility that says being a gentleman, or a lady, is the most important thing we can achieve.' Amen.