A More Polite New Year?

Michael Deacon from the U.K. suggests we all make a new year’s resolution to become more polite. Here are some of his ideas:

“More and more last year, it seemed that many of us thought it our right to offend or inconvenience others. We considered consideration beneath us. Today, as we decide on our New Year’s resolutions for 2009, being more polite would make an excellent choice.

The latest technology has also brought us innumerable new opportunities to be rude….

The internet is in many ways informative and entertaining, a revolutionary news resource. But as a means of communication it has become a mouthpiece not only for the decent majority but for the malicious minority.

And while many of the latest electronic means of communication were created to bring us closer together, they are also cutting us off from each other. If you’re reading your emails on an iPhone while walking down the street – an increasingly widespread habit last year – you may be keeping up with friends and colleagues, but you’re oblivious to pedestrians around you.

However, these new means of communication have succeeded in achieving one thing: they have given us the impression that we are entitled to get whatever we want, as quickly as we want it. Being spoilt in this way means that, when we find ourselves experiencing the least inconvenience, we feel affronted, as if our rights were being trampled on.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that rudeness is, in some quarters, no longer something to be ashamed of; it’s applauded. This is an attitude fed by reality television. We see it in every series of The Apprentice and Big Brother. Again and again, contestants who have said something tactless or insulting will protest that they’re merely being “honest”, while contestants who politely try to conceal their dislike of others are dismissed as “two-faced”.

Let’s try to look at it in a more positive way. The less that we have, maybe the more we’ll realise the importance of manners, of thoughtfulness, of common decency. In a time of pessimism, that would be one thing to hope for. As life gets crueller, perhaps we’ll get kinder.”

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