Obnoxious cell phones, cutting lines, road hogs: People more rude, less civilized than ever, survey says

People can be so dang rude.

Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

A prima donna plops herself in front of everyone standing in line at Fry’s.

A guy sitting next to his date is ignoring her as he furiously texts someone else.

A motorist who either forgot or did not bother to prepare for an upcoming turn cuts off three lanes of traffic just to make it work.

These are not hypothetical situations, but a few fine Tucson examples.

And discourtesy is not limited to the Old Pueblo, but instead rears its ugly, rotting head throughout the entire U.S. of A.

A full 69 percent of folks who answered an August Rasmuseen Reports survey of 1,000 adults across the nation said people are generally becoming ruder and less civilized.

A mere 14 percent, perhaps those who don’t get out much, said people were becoming kinder and gentler while 17 percent were “not sure.”

Maybe they were too busy texting during a date to give the question much thought.

Other poll results had 62 percent saying Americans were ruder to sales personnel than they were 10 years ago and, in turn, 57 percent saying the sales personnel were also ruder to customers than a decade hence.

We’ve come a long way baby.

So why are people becoming cruder, ruder and more barbaric?

We could easily blame TV and call it a day, since TV is already behind most of the world’s woes. Or we could play with a few other theories.

Technology could be to blame. Rudeness often comes from loud cell phone conversations, blaring ringing in the middle of meetings and yes, folks furiously texting or yapping on their phones while out on a date or in other social situations.

Cell phones can also indirectly lead to rude driving. Drivers blabbing on cell phones are perhaps not necessarily attempting to be rude but have instead become so oblivious to the road that they have no clue what they’re doing.

Entitlement is another possibility. Some folks today act as if they are entitled to everything, from being at the front of the line to owning last 50-cent sale item in the clearance bin. They will thus push, shove or steamroll others just to fulfill that entitlement.

Lack of manners can also stem from upbringing, with parents and schools feeding kids the idea that they can do no wrong. Children are applauded simply for breathing. They are gifted with new toys and cars just because they exist.

Such children grow up expecting the world, and everyone in it, to bow at their feet – or at least not blink an eye when they abruptly cut the Starbucks line.

So what should we do when accosted with such crude actions?

Only a slight majority of those surveyed – 51 percent – said they have actually confronted someone for the person’s rude behavior in public.

A full 44 percent let it go without comment while 5 percent said they were “not sure” if they’ve ever said something about another’s uncivilized actions. We’re not sure how people are “not sure” but wonder if they took a beating after the confrontation that could have clouded their memories.

Letting rude behavior slide might be the easiest thing to do, but it also threatens to turn us all into a stack of doormats, letting rude people claw their way to the top of the pile and continue to stomp.

Confronting the rude behavior in an equally rude manner may feel good, but it also brings us down to the other person’s level, a subterranean one that includes being a real jerk.

The best method for dealing with the behavior is to counter it with the sappiest, sweetest and most polite behavior of our own we can manage. This not only allows us to keep our dignity but can also work to make the obnoxious person feel about 2 inches tall.

Either that, or they will wallop us in the face, in which case we may not recall the confrontation any old way.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who likes blaming TV – for everything. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

What do you think?

What’s some of the rudest behavior you’ve witnessed around town?

Are you ever rude on purpose? Do you ever apologize?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in danger, gross stuff, life, Rynski Radio, Stupidity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Obnoxious cell phones, cutting lines, road hogs: People more rude, less civilized than ever, survey says

  1. tiponeill says:

    I rarely encounter rudeness in real life (unless you count the morons who talk on their cell phones while driving).
    Online, of course, it is routine.

    • Rynski says:

      hey tip,
      i agree – face-to-face rudeness is much more intimate – people actually see the dunderhead with whom they are dealing – online is largely anonymous so folks get to act out without being found out.
      it would take a THESIS to write up some of the online rudeness i’ve seen (hahah).
      thanks for input.

  2. ericheithaus says:

    I do not own cell phone and I’m not here right now, so please leave a message.  I’ll call you back.

    • Rynski says:

      press 1 if you want me to leave a message in english. press 2 if you want me to page  you and then leave a message. press 3 if you want me to hang up, pretend i never called but then call again in five minutes to see if you finally pick up the phone.

  3. Oakland says:

    I think people are more rude. We have shown less and less respect for each other. We have reality shows that shows people being behaving so poorly, and we call it entertainment. Its getting to a point where its OK to degrade, humiliate, bully, each other as much as we can, then stick it on you tube to watch over and over again.

    • Rynski says:

      hey oakland,
      i agree – TV is to blame! hahahahha. seriously, though, that’s a very good point. the reality shows thrive on humiliation and degradation. i accidentally subscribed to us magazine which is hopelessly devoted to reality tv and other shows. every week the cover yells something like: ‘this and this person’s embarrassing meltdown’ or ‘this and that person comes to blows with castmates.’
      care to purchase the remainder of my subscription to such stuff (hahah).

  4. andrew farley says:

    In the future, people will be less rude, studies show. Rudeness comes from lack of time in the day, and we get disgruntled because we have to go to sleep and no one wants to go to sleep when there’s so much to do. When everyone has a hand-held communicator TV, personal vehical and a computer at home, then our jobs will be easier, and we’ll have more time to be less rude. “farlogski” is the captcha.

    • Rynski says:

      dear farlogski,
      i like you’re theory! i’ll bet it works out dandily!! there’s no way such devices could ever mean EXTRA work and less downtime, they will surely lead to everyone instead getting to sleep at a decent hour.

  5. Diane says:

    Yes, people are certainly more rude. I suggest you take a look at what you say about yourself as your tag line — you “blame” that is part of what we do now — blame each other instead of having conversations. Take a look at my blog — wise at work — people don’t read it as much because I talk about collaborating and not fighting.

    • tiponeill says:

      Again I wish to point out that what you are observing is online behavior, not real life behavior. I’m sure rynski is perfectly friendly in real life.
      There is just something about the internet that encourages rudeness online

      • Rynski says:

        hey tip,
        thanks for vote on my guestimated perfect friendliness – how kind of you! i try not to be a random jerk (hahah).
        i will admit, however, if someone throws the first punch i will defend myself.
        i also find it strange that someone would not have enough of a sense of humor to get my joke of “blaming TV for everything.”

    • Rynski says:

      dear diane,
      egads! please say you are not “blaming” your claimed lack of readership on harmonious topics?!

    • radmax says:

      Yes, and we blame bacteria and viruses for disease. Give blame where blame is due…

  6. Max Load says:

    Try this on for rude.
    I’m at a food store with my 70+ yo mother, squatting to examine expiration dates on juices, when my attention is directed to a bunch of loose cans of Hansen’s® cane sugar sodas.
    There is one strawberry left.  I say “Ooo!  That looks good!”, pick it up and suddenly the woman pillaging the mandarin lime sodas comprising the rest of the stripe looks over, says “I want that!”, and proceeds to try and rip it out of my hand.
    She is both larger than I am, and a “minority”.
    I death grip it for a few seconds, but realize that:
    A) My mother is with me and would be drawn into any confrontation
    B) If I try to stand up while maintaining my grip I’d be a risk of shoved
    C) Being a “minority” woman, no matter what I do, I would come out the bad guy
    So, I let go, but can only hope there’s a karma payback for that rude b*tch somewhere in her future.

    • Rynski says:

      wow, max load.
      that is dang rude….and your decision to let the soda go seems the only way to go in that given situation. geesh.
      karma will come around, for sure, so enjoy the lime soda in the meantime (haha). thanks for sharing story.

  7. fraser007 says:

    I do not own a cell phone. My daughter and wife do. My wife needs it for her job. My daughter has one if she needs help.
    I love not having one. I have caller I.D. for my home phone. That way I can screen who calls. I never get a message asking..” I left you a message…” And when I.R. calls (Thats Irritating Relatives) call I can choose not to answer or hand the phone to her!!.
     I dont own a Blackberry, I=Phones and all of that crap.
    I use a computer for research and email. I stay connected that way. I wonder if we really need to be ‘that” connected in this modern age. …Pardon me while I get back to my books.

    • Rynski says:

      hiya fraser007,
      thanks for input – and good for you! on avoiding the cell phone/blackberry/etc.
      that’s quite a feat!! also glad to hear you are an avid book lover.
      i, too, wonder about the gadgets’ way of making everyone perpetually connected – seems the world has shifted from quality to quantity in that arena.

    • leftfield says:

      I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know we have yet another thing in common, fraser.  I do have a cell phone, but only at my wife’s insistence and only she has my number.  I often “forget” to turn it on.
      We have a TV, but no digital capability and no cable or satellite.  We use it only to watch movies.  This fact gives my daughter another reason to believe she is living with two really old and out of touch parental units. 

      Blackberries, cell phones; all that jazz; they seem to be most often used to find out if Mary is going out with Bill (again!) and to squeeze yet more work out of people for no extra pay.   

      • Rynski says:

        just had to chime in – glad to hear your TV serves the same purpose mine does – gathering dust and watching movies. yaaay!
        p.s. hahaha on your endnote about squeezing extra work out of people for no extra pay…

      • fraser007 says:

        But what about the secret short wave radio in the basement tuned in to Havana? And no Cable TV from Moscow? I am shocked!!! lol

  8. azmouse says:

    I recently accompanied someone to the emergency room, which is always an all day event. Anyway, a guy and his wife/girlfriend came in. He was scraped up pretty good and I overheard him say he thought he broke his collar bone.

    He was so mean to the woman he was with, saying things like I don’t know why I put up with your sh*t and calling her names and dropping f-bombs. She wouldn’t say anything but would get up and move away from him, only to have him follow her to gripe about her some more.

    I sat next to her, and completely ignoring him, asked her if she was okay. I asked her if she was afraid of him or needed my help to take her somewhere, etc. He was telling me to mind my own business and cussing at me.
    I just told the guy he was mean and abusive, rude, and making a scene that only made himself look bad. I also let him know he didn’t scare me at all because anyone who talks to women that way was a coward and a wuss.

    It at least shut him up for the remainder of my time there.

    • Rynski says:

      good for you, azmouse!!!
      how very cool you called someone out on his actions – and offered help to the girlfriend, too. i hate witnessing people abuse – esp when it involves jerky boyfriends or kids – glad he finally quieted down.
      p.s. hope friend you brought to emergency room is OK.

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