When did good manners go out of fashion?
I've written before about people who can't keep nasty comments to themselves and inconsiderate drivers. People are just as rude with shopping trolleys, the world needs to get out of their way. We jostle for position in queues or even - and this does happen, even in reserved Britain - push in!
When did we stop thinking of others and start thinking about ourselves?
I blame the television. Well, at least I think I do. Perhaps it just holds up a mirror to society and what you see on television is a true reflection of the way things really are. I hope not. Either way it is a big influence.
Look at Big Brother. When it started it was a fascinating social experiment. There were accompanying psychology programmes. It soon changed into, not only a freak show, but also a display of appalling bad behaviour.
In 2006 we met Nikki Grahame (photographed above). She was an adult but displayed the manners and self-control of a toddler. She had tantrums. She screamed and stamped her foot if she didn't get her own way. I'd never seen such lack of restraint in a grown up.
The following year we saw Chanelle Hayes. She copied Nikki's character traits and mannerisms as if they were normal standards of behaviour. This was the same series where we had the self-obsessed, argumentative Charley Uchea. Were these people vilified for their behaviour or did they negatively influence a generation of impressionable youngsters?
In 2008 (the last time I watched Big Brother) we saw Alexandra De-Gale threaten and bully her way to ejection from the series.
This was the first time I'd noticed the new obsession with telling it like it is or telling it straight. All of a sudden contestants were being unbelievably rude to each other's faces. Of course telling the truth is important, but where is the consideration for people's feelings? Since when did it become important to tell the truth all the time to complete strangers?
The internet makes it easy to say what you think, hiding behind your screen. You can even be rude to someone you have never met via the medium of anonymity. You can hurt someone's feelings to the point where they end up in tears. Would you make the same hurtful comments to their face? Maybe, but probably not.
I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating because I try to live my life by this rule, if you've got nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. Or at least dress it up a bit. Good friends can gently tell you the truth without hurting your feelings. My good friends are considerate. My good friends have manners.
Am I being old fashioned and hankering for times gone by? Am I an old fuddy-duddy?
Possibly, but I really do believe that while it's nice to be important, it's more important to be nice. This is how I'll be raising my children.
This post was written as part of the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. This week I chose prompt no.1: What is your personal motto?