Our culture is a mess right now. Every day I read about or experience another episode that tells me how this place is swirling straight down the toilet. And I also found the common denominator: inconsideration.
Look at the two airline incidents where passenger squabbles over reclining seatbacks were so severe, the flights had to be diverted and landed. With the first one, a guy was using a device designed to prevent the seatback in front of him from being reclined.
Note: As a tall guy, I am completely on his side. In fact, I think they should bring out a model that has a taser setting built right into it. I’m completely sick of people jamming their seats all the way back, so that my knees are trapped in place.
Anyway, my point is that the person in front, the recliner, assumed it was her unalienable right to recline, regardless of rights of the person behind her to maintain the minimal space he was assigned. “Me first.”
Look at the problems I had at the Boston concert, (and numerous other concerts and sporting events) where certain people claim because they bought a ticket, they have the right to stand up whenever they please, regardless of what’s going on around them. They paid their money, so it’s “Me first, screw you people behind me.”
Look at the myriad of traffic incidents that happen across the country on an hourly (if not minute-ly) basis. People who don’t use blinkers, or who cut you off in traffic, or who pull out right in front of you going 10 mph slower than you were going are saying, “Me first, screw you. I don’t have time to wait five seconds for you to pass, but you can certainly wait behind me while I drift along 5 mph under the speed limit.”
I’m convinced that the reason so few people use their turn signal is that there’s nothing in it for them. It’s all to benefit others, so why bother?
Look at the people riding public transportation, and take up two seats on a crowded vehicle, with by lounging across both seats, or spreading out their shit and daring you to say something. “Screw you. I need a place for my giant bag far more than you need to sit down after a long day.”
After which, they get on the escalator, pull up on the left beside someone else, and stop, forcing everyone who has someplace to go or little time to get there, to cool their heels while they enjoy the ride. “Screw you. I don’t have to take a step to my right and let you pass, because you need to dance to MY tune. In fact, I’m not even aware you’re there.”
Look at the retail experience, where customers abuse clerks because they disagree with a price or the return policy, or clerks ignore customers so they can finish a texting session with their BFFs. “Screw you, my concerns are far more important than yours.”
If you look at it, most criminal activity has inconsideration all over it. Theft, violence, destruction of property… it’s all a big “Screw you.” They’re saying, “I get to do what I want or take what I want, no matter how badly it hurts or affects you.”
All of this is why we keep seeing stories in the news about long “Pay it Forward” chains, 6-year old girls who raise money for animal shelters, or other random good deeds… because they’re so rare. If it happened all the time, in proportion to our population, it wouldn’t be noteworthy. When someone does something nice for someone else, it goes against the grain of what our culture has become: a breed of people obsessed with ourselves, and utterly convinced of our own inflated worth.
Now I’ll admit, I could be under the influence of the East Coast Effect. I seem to remember people in the Midwest looking out for one another a little more. Or, maybe that was just a different time.
So what’s next? Beats the hell out of me. But I know we’d all be a lot better off if we looked around once in a while, and cut the people around us a break.