Americans are rude

I’m not sure if it’s simply a symptom of getting older, but I find that people have become more rude. The lack of the use of turn signals while driving is one prime example. They used them when I was a kid. Not any more. Drivers have become more rude, pedestrians, corporations, voters.

The other day a friend tweeted some Web site where you were supposed to spin a virtual wheel and then do the New Years’ good deed the wheel landed on. The good deed it selected for me was “hold a door open for a stranger.” Who wouldn’t do that anyway? Since when did common courtesies become the thing of “special New Years promises”?

I also remember a time, seven years ago or so, when I found a bank card sticking out of an ATM, with the screen asking me if I wanted to withdraw more money. Someone, oddly, had left their card in the machine, still logged in to their account. So I took the card, clicked “no” on the screen, and called the bank the next morning to report it. The bank person was shocked that I called. I was shocked that she was shocked – you expected me to steal from someone else’s bank account, I asked her? When common courtesy becomes extraordinary, we have a problem.

Dr. Douglas Fields via Huff Post:

The contrast between the brash, comparatively disrespectful behavior of Americans today and the courtesy, formal manners, civil discourse, polite behavior and respect for others regardless of social status that is evident in Japanese society is striking. The contrast hits an American like a splash of cold water upon disembarking the airplane in Japan, because it clashes so starkly with our behavior. For an American, Japanese manners and courtesy must be experienced.

American children today are raised in an environment that is far more hostile than the environment that nurtured today’s adults. Children today are exposed to behaviors, profane language, hostilities and stress from which we adults, raised a generation ago, were carefully shielded. When I was a boy, there were no metal detectors at the entrance to my school. The idea was inconceivable, and there was indeed no need for them. Not so today. I wonder: how does this different environment affect brain development?

And there are implications for bullying.

A series of studies by a group of psychiatrists and brain imaging scientists lead by Martin Teicher, of Harvard Medical School, shows that even hostile words in the form of verbal abuse can cause these brain changes and enduring psychiatric risks for young adults. In a study published in 2006, the researchers showed that parental verbal abuse was more strongly associated with these detrimental effects on brain development than was parental physical abuse. In a new study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, they report that exposure to verbal abuse from peers is associated with elevated psychiatric symptoms and corpus callosum abnormalities. The main causes are stress hormones, changes in inhibitory neurotransmitters, and environmental experience affecting the formation of myelin electrical insulation on nerve fibers. The most sensitive period for verbal abuse from peers in impairing brain development was exposure during the middle school years. Why? Because this is the period of life when these connections are developing in the human brain, and wiring of the human brain is greatly influenced by environmental experience.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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One Response to “Americans are rude”

  1. joe73072 says:

    This posting is so spot on. Our society has become more aggressive, impolite, inconsiderate of others. It is one part Reaganism’s self-centeredness, one part the iPod’s isolation-in-public, and one part a reflection of our increased acquiescence to militarization.

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