Monday, November 2, 2009

How Rude!

"How Rude" is not just a phrase from Full House. The act of being rude has suddenly become very intriguing to me. Why is it that people can be so cosmically drawn to someone who is quite rude, but annoyed by someone who's chronically polite? How often is rude behavior genuinely incondsiderate as opposed to a benign act that is incorrectly perceived? Is it better to be rude and honest than polite and misleading? The answers to all of these questions are eluding me.

There are dozens of examples of things that are perceived as proper in one culture that are considered "rude" in others: looking someone in the eyes, greeting someone you don't know, burping during a meal, giving the thumbs-up, taking your shoes it the act or the intention behind the action that causes such an uproar? Surely something impolite is more easily forgiven if the offense was accidental. Perhaps it's the motivation behind the action that prompts such a negative response.

Sometimes it's the lack of concern for others that inspires rude behavior: someone who cuts in line because they didn't realize that others were waiting or somebody that finishes the last helping of pie without asking if anyone else was looking forward to it. Have you ever gone on and on over the phone about your horrible day, then realized after you hung up that you didn't even ask how the other person's day had gone? How many of these fauxpas can we rack up before we realize that we're just inconsiderate people?

Maybe we're meant to be rude in general. Being overly polite to someone you aren't close to can give them the impression that you feel more deeply than you do. Maybe the point is to be considerate to those who deserve your consideration and disregard what anyone else thinks. If that's the case, what about the Golden Rule? I want to be done unto a certain way, so I do unto others appropriately. That doesn't make me false. In fact, I *want* to treat people with respect and consideration. I can't understand how there are people out there who don't, but it appears that they actually outnumber the rest of us. Anybody have any words of wisdom for me on this?

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