Friday, August 05, 2011

Are People Becoming Ruder in the Obama Economy?

I saw over at Rasmussen Reports that 76% of Americans feel that people are becoming ruder:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 76% of Adults say Americans are becoming more rude and less civilized. Just 12% say they’re becoming kinder and gentler, while just as many (12%) are not sure.

Well, Amy Alkon has been writing about rudeness for years but it does strike me that people are getting a bit nastier even lately. Mainly (and this is completely anecdotal), I have noticed drivers honking and acting out more.

Case in point. I saw a driver yesterday honking angrily at a truck for going what he thought was too slow. The other driver, angry that he was honked at, slowed down to a crawl for a mile or so, trapping the car behind him and letting him know what he thought of the angry behavior. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I have seen drivers lately acting even worse.

Although the Rasmussen post suggested that it might be technology and cell phones etc. that is causing increased rudeness, I wonder how much of the free-floating hostility is a reaction to the horrific economy, even for those who voted for the current administration. Maybe, the policies that are driving this country into the ground are also causing bad and hostile driving. Or maybe it's something else.

Anyone else notice an increase in hostile driving or other hostility in the air recently? What do you attribute the anger to?


Blogger Samuel J. Scott said...

Dr. Helen,

Without any raw data, I'd be wary of any confirmation bias in anecdotal observations. Conservatives, as a group, tend to view current times as worse than the past, more so than liberals.

So conservatives, whom I presume outnumber liberals on this blog, will be more likely to perceive people as being ruder today (whether it is true or not).

8:42 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger TMink said...

Samuel, you give a difference without distinction.


9:11 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Conservatives, as a group, tend to view current times as worse than the past, more so than liberals.

And, your raw data to support this statement regarding lack of contact with reality by liberals? Or, do you just mean rudeness in current times?

In my anecdotal experience with my self proclaimed progressive sister, she rudely accuses people of sexism, etc during family gatherings, such as Thanksgiving dinner. But, to her it's not rudeness. She's proselytizing the progressive gospel and if you protest, you're rude (and stupid, racist, sexist, evil, etc).

I've noticed these sort of actions by other progressives also, but not as much. But, in the public debate, progressives don't seem to have any problem rudely calling those who disagree with them terrorists, racist, sexist and other naughty things.

I know I've become a little more rude in conversation in that if someone starts the progressive bullshit with me, I'm much more likely to rudely cut them off or rebut them.

9:24 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

i notice that people tend to be driving just under the speed limit, which could be a form of passive/agressive behaviour, or fear of a speeding ticket with it`s attendant increase in insurance premiums...or an increase or change in the meds people are on.

i haven`t seen an increase in overt agression though, in fact whent he highway was shut completely last week-end due to a man running his wife over with a car, people were extremely good about the 40 minute wait to get to the next off ramp.

wait a minute....a man ran his wife over with a car....i guess that would count as agressive driving, wouldn`t it!

9:25 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

dadvocate, i remember a teacher of mine once saying that you can decide to give up your unhappiness, if you choose.

i used to love to debate "progressives" to, in my mind at least, sharpen my skills...but i realise that the costs far outweigh the benefit mostly, especially with the strident feminist, environmentalist, etc.

when i notice people converationally scrambling for the moral high-ground these days, i mostly tune the batty lady at starbucks with yappy little fat dog that looks just like her who tried to draw me into the "s.u.v. bad" game. i initially said that i own one and that it is perfect for my family and i to go places together and that it`s actually less gas than the two smaller cars we`d have to take otherwise if we were to travel together, but she gave me the "silly boy" look and went into her diatribe about rain forests and acid rain and so on, and i realised that she was a dingbat and that i was to avoid her when possible.

9:35 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Bob said...

Well, I always attribute road rudeness to all the carpetbaggers who've moved down here to NC from New York and New Jersey. That's just me, though, I'm admittedly unreconstructed. ;-)

9:35 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

i was to avoid her when possible.

That's my primary approach. When I rudely interrupt, it's not to debate, it's to tell them I don't want to hear it and they can take it elsewhere if they insist on talking about it.

I drive 120 miles round trip each day to work and back. I see occasional minor road rage, but not as much as I would expect considering some of the dumb driving I see.

9:42 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Mirwalk said...

Well I used to work tech support over the phone. noticed a sharp decline in customer support among ours and other companies. Usually appears to be due to short staffing. So if you get ruder servers, then people get more upset easier. I think it all snowballs.

9:57 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

Political debate: It's not rude to respond in kind. Rudeness is determined by who did it first. If someone shouts asshole at me, my responding with Fuck off isn't really rude.

Everyday life: Must be where I live. No noticeable rudeness.

10:34 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

Hey, Samuel

I've been called a "terrorist", "hostage taker", "racist" and "insane".

And that's just in the last week.

By libs who pride themselves on their "civility". I don't see it, tho. The "civility", that is.

And the only reason they use these terms is because they know it isn't really true. If they thought it was actually true - that their physical well being might be threatened - they'd actually be a bit more polite.

Like they are towards those responsible for human-caused disasters.

10:47 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger LPF said...

I'm thinking, just maybe: slow but steady increases in the sense of entitlement on one side, pitted against an ever increasing sense of resentment on the other has everyone on edge...

It seems to be what's behind my 'all consuming bitter rage'* anyways...

*hat tip to MadOgre

10:50 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Kim said...

Never see any road rage around here in North Texas. Maybe that's just a combination of old-fashioned Southern politeness and everyone carrying guns.

Compare and contrast with when I used to drive the Long Island Expressway every day... yikes.

11:24 AM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Joe said...

Confirmation bias.

12:55 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

My theory, which isn't completely worked out yet, is that people are already angry inside about money and the results of their own economic choices. Since these "good" people don't want to admit money concerns in public -- even to friends and family, the internal pressure leaks out in their everyday behavior.

p.s. Sorry if yesterday's celebrity pic offended. *I* thought it was a humorous comparison. -bb

1:00 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger TMink said...

The bottom line truth is that Progressives do not share well. They are not tolerant to differing opinions. They do not lose well. Witness Wisconsin. Witness John Kerry saying that the news should not report on the tea party. This is not the kind of thing that happened when Obama was elected, but it sure is as he and his ilk are being defeated.


1:00 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Helen said...


Do you mean the Nigella Lawson pics etc.? I thought it was hilarious!

1:08 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

I don't a crap for anecdotal this or bias that. I will put money on liberals being wildly ruder than conservatives. Not all, but 87.4% at the very least. It stems from their intense desire for social engineering. I know best, so I feel comfortable judging others according to my self-serving beliefs. I know a number of libs who detest social engineering, and they are actually quite nice to be around.

It's not being liberal that makes them nasty; it's their conviction that they are without flaw. Conservatives are no different.

But what other posters have touched upon is central to human behavior: When an individual or group unilaterally decides what is "rude" according to a self-serving policy, they proudly deride others while patting themselves on the back. You see this a lot with both religious people and atheists. Both groups will proudly declare the other to be mentally bankrupt and so their observations are not rudeness, but a sign of "intellectual superiority." It's disturbing how many religious people and atheists will point to the other and accuse them of "smugness." How many conservatives and liberals will call the other "fascist." It's almost hilarious.

Bullshit!! They're both rude. Civility dies when humility is gagged.

I look for humility in people. When the willingness to recognize your faults and weaknesses as a human being declines, your rudeness will skyrocket hand-in-hand with the pride you take in your vile behavior. Just look at most feminists.

Dr. Josef Mengele was convinced he was going to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine. That's in his diary. The hubris is unimaginable.

2:34 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Sorry if yesterday's celebrity pic offended. *I* thought it was a humorous comparison.

I'm still waiting for Lawson's phone number.

2:47 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

Oh, and people who flip other people off when driving should be sent to New Jersey to live until they either get sick of it, or buy a house and set up shop.

2:48 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

atheism is, by behaviour, a religion, it`s faith is that god doesn`t exist, because we have no proof that he does or doesn`t.

i think many self-proclaiming athiests are actually agnostic, but don`t know the word...but i might be wrong.

3:38 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

@dr alistair: "atheism is, by behaviour, a religion, it`s faith is that god doesn`t exist..."

You're wrong. Be smart and drop it.

3:41 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

I think that people are generally more rude these days, because of the anonymity of the internet. One has only to look at our own Jerk Gesticulating to figure that out.

Back in the day--and I can use that term because I am 50--when I was a kid, everyone wanted to come over to our house to play. Actually, it was our condos, but it was the first complex down here to have central air conditioning and it had a pool. (You have no idea how hot it used to get down here back then. We're talking 105-110 on a daily basis. Not even the schools had central air conditioning. They would just put a big fan in the front of the classroom.)

So the kids all came running to my house. It was cool. We had a pool to swim in. We had fields to play in. Run around all day in the sun, jump in the pool, then kick back in air conditioning.

The point being is that back in the day people, kids especially, used to interact with each other personally, that is face to face. These days, it's all anonymous. No wonder some people are more rude.

And I'll tell you what. If I came across some gesticulating jerk on the street, I'd kick his sorry ass.

3:58 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

Kim --

I295, those people are absolutely insane.

5:39 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger kmg said...

atheism is, by behaviour, a religion, it`s faith is that god doesn`t exist..."

Not enough nuance.

Detached, easygoing agnosticism/atheism where the atheist doesn't really care about debating/debunking/converting others, is not a religion.

Obsessive atheism where people are on a hair-trigger to slam religion, is a religion (and has often been an ideology of state in the USSR, China, N. Korea).

The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.

Loving the idea of God = religion

*Hating* the idea of God = religion

Not getting riled up either way, even if you don't believe in God = Not a religion

6:07 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...


6:24 PM, August 05, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This argument and the anecdotal instances indicated hardly make the case for what in fact has been a part of America for many years.

And you will find "rudeness" is often sectional rather than national.

7:16 PM, August 05, 2011  
Blogger Jeff said...

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 76% of Adults say Americans are becoming more rude and less civilized.

The other 24% hung up on the pollster.

10:45 AM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jeff --

The predominant comment from the 76% responding was: "What the hell are you interrupting my dinner for?"

11:02 AM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger Trust said...

I find it crazy the following interpretations:

During Clinton's term the debt increased over 0.5 billion every day = that was called a surplus.

During Bush's term the debt increased over 1.5 billion per day = that was called fiscal incompetence

During Obama's term the debt is increasing over 4.5 billion per day = that was called recovering from Bush

Notice a pattern? If the (R) is in office, the buck stops there. If the (D) is in office it is covered up and/or blamed on the nearest (R).

1:59 PM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger eb said...

I have come to expect a bit of rudeness in these days and times. The teenager on their first job, the clerk in retail, or the personnel at the service companies.(power, water, gas, etc)
I have found the rudest are the youngest.
But, my rudest encounter recently was with a woman in her fifties. I was relating a story about my great grandmother who was 100% Cherokee Indian. Our family has always related her story about her growing up with a lesbian Indian in her neighborhood. The other young girl knew at an early age that she was different and always told my great grandmother that they were going to get married. This started at seven or eight years of age. We always thought it was cute and funny. I finished telling the story, my older sister was there, and we always laugh at it.
This lady immediately called me a sexist, racist, homophobic, misogynistic pig. This woman knows my sister and I are very conservative politically and this was her way of stating her political and social superiority. We ignored her. I think you have to decide at some point the problem is not with you, but with the other person.
Often, people use rudeness to provoke the other person into an exchange. Often times, rudeness is just a big chip on someone's shoulder. Be careful, some hills aren't worth it to die on.

6:12 PM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger Joe said...

Rudeness is regional. I grew up in New York state (not city) and have lived in the west & southwest for the past 30 years. I am struggling to remember the last time I dealt with a genuinely rude waiter in a sit-down restaurant or cash register person at a fast food restaurant (I've dealt with several incompetent ones.) Several years ago, we went on a family vacation back to upstate New York. Almost every waiter and cash register person we dealt with was rude, several incredibly so.

7:21 PM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

Anyone who wants a lesson in how society's purge rudeness: visit the Czech Republic.

I'm not saying they're the most civil people in the world, but their method of keeping people polite is inspirational.

7:27 PM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

damn! I meant: societies

7:27 PM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger Doom said...

I don't really have a good way to measure. I moved from the mean streets of Iowa City (and yeah, people are just plain rude there, in my opinion) to a place where people are generally genial. If I need a dose of as*hattery, I just head to one of the cities.

Sometimes, the places I shop, I can't always find it. If so, I veer over to one of the "organic stores". Those places are full of that. Seriously. I almost miss tweaking lefty hardnoses. But I do go there to buy something special occasionally, like a true Italian sausage, or an extra special artisan cheese. Well, and to tweak. "Have any Obama disappointmints?" You know, chit-chat. Ruh-rho... :)

7:31 PM, August 06, 2011  
Blogger Superdestroyer said...

Rudeness have nothing to do with progressives or conservatives. It has more to do with electronic rudeness. The worst thing that has happened to driving is all the use of cell phones. When I pass a car on the right because they are doing too slow, the driver is usually trying to text or talk instead of drive.

People in restaurants and stores yap on the cell phones and treat others with more rudeness. How many people answer their phone in the middle of a conservation or while trying to interact with a clerk, co-workers, or even a stranger.

Cellular communications has caused too many people to disconnect themselves from their surroundings.

7:54 AM, August 07, 2011  
Blogger Bob's Blog said...

Yes, I have noticed aggressive driving, but not necessarily worse than it has been for years. As a part-time cashier at a Wal-Mart, I notice that the vast majority of people are not rude. It is that one person in a hundred who can ruin the cashier's day, if he or she lets them. The odds really are that great, in my experience.

11:00 PM, August 07, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rudeness is a barometer it seems. Driving cars is a different level of relationship than personally shaking hands. Relationships and communications. One country may or may not recognize the existence of another country. There are many levels of being a person.

5:56 AM, August 08, 2011  
Blogger TMink said...

Doom, ever notice how completely unhappy and unsmiling the people in organic or health foods are?


9:24 AM, August 09, 2011  

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