I have declared war on rude people. Some may consider it an unwinnable war, but so far, I am pleased with the results. My world is small, making it easy to control.
We will never stamp out rude people. They have always walked among us, and they always will. Cave men were rude. The Bible has its share of rude characters. Read your history books, and you will find one on every page.
“The Andy Griffith Show” is known for its amiable sheriff, bumbling deputy, and cute kid. But even Mayberry had a rude visitor now and then. Remember Ernest T. Bass?
I haven’t been able to escape rudeness. I don’t try to attract it, but somehow it finds me. The polite TV personalities of my youth have been replaced by angry “cable news” screamers, obnoxious game show hosts (“You are the weakest link…goodbye!”), and bad-behaving “reality” stars.
Political figures, both local and national, have won many an election by being rude and insulting. That old saying about the cream rising to the top has been toppled by another one: nice guys finish last.
The trickle-down effect, often used as an economic term, now defines our national behavior. If our leaders can curse in public, engage in name-calling, and lie without consequences, what’s going to stop the rest of us?
Social media isn’t the only culprit, but it’s a major contributor. It has encouraged people who wouldn’t dare insult someone to their face to do it from their keyboard. Some do it behind a fake identity, while others are boldly out in the open. Those are the ones who are shocked when they lose their friends, or even their jobs after spewing hatred that can be viewed worldwide.
Fortunately, most social media sites offer the option of “unfollowing” a person who you might actually like, but you don’t want to see their political opinions and insults. You’re still their friend, but you don’t have to witness their online rudeness. I have found this to be very helpful.
If that person crosses a line that you cannot forgive, you can always unfriend them, or even ban them from seeing your posts and participating in your discussions. This is a last resort for me, but it has come in handy.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s mama said, “If you can’t say something nice, just don’t say anything at all.” I once posted a TV news story I had done on a child with facial abnormalities, and how the child’s friends were helping in a fund-raising effort. My post included a photo of the child. Most of the responses were kind and thoughtful, except one. That person made an incredibly rude comment about the child’s appearance. That person may still be among us, but not in my world.
More recently, I was previewing my upcoming book. It was the day after President Joe Biden was inaugurated. I included his photo at a 2015 memorial honoring the five fallen servicemen who were killed in a terror attack in Chattanooga. I noted that “as of today, a total of 27 Presidents have visited our area before, during or after their presidency.” Most people responded with questions about the history I’m covering in the book, but one person decided to attack Biden. It was not intended to be a political post, and that person is now free to to be rude on her own page, but never again on mine.
We see rudeness in the real world too. I’m not too picky about plumbers. If they show up on time and make water flow in the right direction, I’m a satisfied customer. Unless, they cross the rudeness line. Like the plumber whose truck was parked in my driveway while unclogging a drain. As I walked back from my mailbox, I saw his bumper sticker. It was very offensive, and not something I would include in this column. I have no control over what he puts on his truck. I can, however keep it from being seen on my property.
“What about his freedom of speech?” someone is shouting right now. I’m all for that, just as I exercise my right to choose with whom I do business. Not all my friends agree with my political views, but those who can differ with me politely and respectfully will remain my friends. When the discourse becomes vulgar or disrespectful, you have lost me.
I’m no doctor, but it seems like eliminating negative influences is good for my health. It can be like Whack-a-Mole: you get rid of one, and another pops up. But it’s a war worth waging.
The older I get, the more I realize that every remaining smile is a gift. Removing rude people from my life gives me greater appreciation of those who make me smile.