Welcome to the Culture of Rudeness; the 'Culture of Self-Esteem,' Writ Large

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 12, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Welcome to the Culture of Rudeness; the 'Culture of Self-Esteem,' Writ Large

Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Not for a long, long time have parents enforced the notion that children should be seen and not heard. All us fogies, even young ones, flinch when the kids talk at loud length on their cell phones at school, at play and in their living rooms. They turn the music up as high as it can go no matter where they are.

Let's hear it for one old fogey who has invented a little payback. An engineer in Wales, noticing that teenagers hear sound at higher pitches than older grown-ups, and weary of having to listen to loud music where teenagers congregate, has developed a tiny machine he calls the "Mosquito." The Mosquito blasts a piercing high frequency wail that sends teenagers scurrying. Adults are merely amused because the pitch is too high for their ears to pick up. At last, a weapon for civil(ity) defense.

But the fundamental issue isn't noise, but rudeness and a dearth of manners. We've all bemoaned the culture dominated by images that exploit the ever-shrinking attention span, but we neglect to confront the sources of noise that assault the ear everywhere. The offenders come in all ages, races and from every economic level. Equal opportunity cell phones ring loudly in restaurants, theaters, trains, and doctors' waiting rooms.

Sports fans once focused on the game, enjoying conversation before and after the double play or the dash off-tackle for a crucial first down, but now we're forced to endure loud thumping, wailing and screaming between innings, after touchdowns, and during timeouts. No one can concentrate even for a minute without a rush of adrenalin pumped up by noise.

Every generation finds ways to push the envelope of collective neurosis, of course. Nothing is as much fun as irritating elders, but now the Culture of Rudeness comes at us from many directions, amplified. Christopher Lasch wrote "The Culture of Narcissism" in 1979, how modern man needed to look into the mirror to validate his sense of self. The new narcissists have replaced mirrors of reflection with the yearning to attract attention, good or bad, or to shut out everyone else to indulge the nirvana of self-absorption.

"The self-esteem movement nascent when Lasch was writing has reached maturity," writes Christine Rosen in Policy Review, published by the Hoover Institution, "and its progeny, the children of Lasch's 1970s narcissists, are now forming their own families. Many of them embrace an increasingly egalitarian family structure, uncritically and enthusiastically use personal technologies that alter the rhythms of private life, and isolate family members from each other.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Welcome to the Culture of Rudeness; the 'Culture of Self-Esteem,' Writ Large


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?