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Broken SocietyEditor’s Note: This week Alex finds manners in the young wanting. 

Howdy y’all!

This week I’d like to get overly serious with you and discuss bad manners and poor behaviour in young people in our damaged society. Are they to blame? Who and what teaches them? What have they learnt? Do they even care?

Now, there are many different circumstances that require good manners but here in the U.K it seems to be fashionable now especiallyfor young people to ignore others to the point of complete carelessness. So, college and university students and alike seem to be wrapped up in socialising without maturing key people-skills or bearing an understanding of what is really going on around them.

At the age of 27 (28 soon, make sure you slip a ‘tenner’ into my birthday card) I feel like a moaning middle-aged man on the brink of exploding with frustration. I’m sure we all get this unnerving sensation when witnessing ignorant behaviour, but it feels like I’ve been crying out, before I was even out of my teens, for a good few clip around the ears of people in a certain age bracket who often ignore elders trying to cross busy roads and even barge past them to get to their all important fancy bar or clothes store.

Society seems to be dictated by fashion and self importance, and not just clothes fashions either – I see fashions of behaviour like the over elaborate handshakes and trendy gestures and greetings, which on their own are harmless but are an example of how showing off has become an instrument of projected image, whilst the art of a cultured conversation is decaying along with the ‘lobotomised’ brains that should contain some degree of ability to be friendly and welcoming to all. Instead, youth are marginalised by their own perceptions of themselves and do not care so much for important factors such as appropriate language, not that I’m against slang.

This care-free, almost pompous portrayal I find to be sickening at times. However, since the 20th century and into the 21st we can all analyse the problems set with our flimsy youth and see how they’ve been shaped. And I’m a part of it, this system of borderline nihilism, along with the cold, uninspired nothingness in the eyes of some, not all, of our younger people. Here is my basic breakdown of some of the key points in our recent history which allude to the behavioural changes in Western society:

  • First World War – Trenches and battlefields of millions dead.
  • Second World War – Holocaust, a massacre of six million Jews.
  • Cold War – An anxious atmosphere of military tension spanned through decades.
  • The ‘swinging 60ies’ – A rebellion of beliefs and ideals. Obscenity no longer so punishable.
  • Vietnam War – More massacre of innocent lives and a display of American paranoia.
  • Margaret Thatcher and the riots of the 1980ies – Some approved, many hated her. Violence became the only response for the working class.
  • Rwandan Genocide in the 1990ies – 500,000 men, women and children slaughtered in a period of less than 3 months in 1994.
  • ‘9/11’ Terrorist attack – A shock brought live to our television news channels, somewhat unbelievable.
  • The Iraq war – Questions arise as to the actual reasons, as well as further American paranoia.
  • 2012 London riots – A burst of anarchy by those without a discernible cause.

All of the above contribute not only to youth, but all of our perilous feelings of gradually being stunned and deceived. It’s not so straightforward to consider them as reasons for bad manners but you only have to look through the most popular social networking websites to see that many people are disrespecting everything from local news to world news, from all politics to all religion. It’s worrying, but was it not all inevitable?

The sad fact is that most young people are turned away from gruesome truths, and in a way who can blame them? In school they had to learn about a lot of death and a lot of war, and since the boom of art and literature throughout the twentieth century it’s as if we’re all taking postmodernism to a new level, post-postmodernism if you will. So, constructs and ideals get diluted whilst the presentation of a young person’s appearance and intelligence gets heightened – everyone has an opinion and everyone is allowed to share their own (most of them uneducated and built for the sake of witty humour, not traditional beliefs).

It might seem I have gone off topic in some ways, but the root of the problem is a deep one and it concerns me. And so as I try to get in and out of shops or on and off a bus I not only feel a sense of hypertension between teenagers and 20+ year olds, but there is a hurried nonchalance amongst us all – we all seem to be focused on where we’re trying to get to and the elderly and disabled are more of a obstruction to us instead of a everyday task of nobility and good will.

Personally I always ask, or at least look to see, if an old gentleman or lady needs help getting off the bus, or indeed for a mother with a pram. It’s not a desperate showing of likeability or to score points of grace for those to witness, it’s just an inert, basic act. It should be imbedded in our subconscious to move out of the way when people are trying to get past, but instead many of us stand ‘strong’ and stubborn, as if it is more important how ‘cool’ you look to a good looking girl or guy, or to a group of fellow neatly trimmed and hip looking friends.

Perhaps I’m bitter and the problem is a minor one, but the evidence to me shows that if World War 3 were to break out, God forbid, suddenly skinny jeans and spiky hairdos won’t do on the battlefield. We’d all literally wet our pants and our masses of mascara would run like a trembling stream of horror.

Would youth even act upon mandatory conscriptions or react to the notion of fighting for one’s country? I doubt it, not that I’m a patriot, yet they barely even have the time in their busy schedule to move two feet to the side to let a child past on the pavement, or say please and thank you if they were trying to get by themselves. They’re not bad people, they’re not like disgraceful, inhumane robots without compassion, they just seem to have forgotten how to behave as the madness that is this Earth has now been projected on screen for all to contemplate, question or ignore. How we choose to behave has become our own choice, and let’s not forget – it’s cool to be cool.

What could be the other solution then, panic? After all the pain and suffering we might be led to think that all of us would be running around trying to help one another, trying to be pleasant and approachable for any person of any disposition. Unfortunately the opposite is at work – we’d rather turn a blind eye and joke about it all because coming to the stark realisation of the true nature of mankind would be all too difficult digest. Thus, people will continue to be rude and aggressive and religiously follow fashion instead of developing character and care for their surroundings. Vandalism is nothing new, but now common and coarse; virtues and good manners are broken and shattered into shards too sharp to handle.

photo credit: Chris Devers via photopin cc