I read today in the Chicago Sun Times that 74 percent of urban and 67 percent of rural people think that in general, people are are ruder today than they were 20 or 30 years ago (link will probably die — deal with it).
Well, I will agree that a lot of people are pretty damned rude. But I have to wonder, how much does the frequency of rudeness vary from year to year? My guess? Not much. Social norms evolve over time. Grandparents are always going to be shaking their heads at their grandchildren, and comlaining about “kids these days”. So, what is the perceived frequency of rudeness in the present in comparison to the perceived frequency of rudeness in the past (not in retrospect)? I’d bet that the numbers aren’t that different.
Who’s to blame for the fact that young people don’t have the exact same social norms as old people? Why, their parents, of course! (Also, the media. It’s some kind of vast ______-wing conspiracy orsomething.) Boo fucking hoo. Plato thought that certain kinds of music would lead to terrible terrible death and destruction and evil and the downfall of society at so on and so forth and whatnot and yadda yadda yadda. Does this sound familiar? (My parents never tried this shit, so I was a little bit stumped on ways to annoy them sometimes…)
37 percent of adults in a survey said that they had used a swear word in public. Wikipedia says (no, seriously, Wikipedia is indeed taking over Google — it’s within the top five for any search I try.)
The offensiveness or perceived intensity or vulgarity of the various profanities can change over time, with certain words becoming more or less offensive as time goes on. For example, in modern times the word piss is usually considered mildly vulgar and somewhat impolite, whereas the King James Bible unblushingly employs it where modern translators would prefer the word urine (2 Kings 18:27; Isa 36:12) or urinate (1 Sam 25:22, 25:34; 1 Kings 14:10, 16:11, 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8).
(The entry also reminds me about how much we used to enjoy talking about seals in French class…)
It’s all just bullshit. Fuck.
(P.S. I’m one of the 13% of people that will admit to making obscene gestures while driving…)