Peggy Noonan says that while we’re living in an age of unprecedented wealth, it’s also unprecedented boorishness and bad manners.
There are good things and bad in the Gilded Age, pluses and minuses. I write here of a minus. It has to do with our manners, the ones we show each other on the street. I think riches, or the pursuit of riches, has made us ruder. You’d think broad comfort would assuage certain hungers. It has not. It has sharpened them.
And then she gives examples. While she’s write that bad manners are rampant, I wonder how much of it has to do with where she’s living. She’s in New York City. For instance, I’ve never had a waiter treat me as rudely as the one in her story does.
Further, while the other behaviors she describes are fairly common in the Boston area, they might be less common in other parts of the country, although you have to get pretty far from the cities to avoid them.
Also, is this aggressiveness just a resurgence of older behaviors? Were people always more polite and less boorish than they are now? My gut says not.
Yet, there’s truth to what she writes. Bad manners is rampant and what’s most distressing is the level of bad manners you see in children with no one correcting them. How bad will it be in a decade or two?