The Age of the Douche Bag

27 Oct
Paris Hilton at the 2008 Sundance Film Festiva...

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As a society, we have become rude and self absorbed. What’s worse is this behavior and general attitude has become not only acceptable, but I would argue fashionable. People don’t say, “Hello,” they don’t hold doors, they expect something for nothing and they want to get where they’re going fast, without any regard to others in their way. Before I start to sound too cynical, I know there are still good mannered people out there. It just seems most of my daily interactions involve rude, inconsiderate d-bags.

To better explore this theory, I first had to research where manners started and their history. You usually hear manners and etiquette interchangeably. Think of etiquette as the practice of putting your good manners to work.

Emily Post, 20th century expert on manners wrote, “Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality — the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”

Back in the day manners and etiquette were for nobility — dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. During the age when monarchies ruled the world, it was fashionable to practice good manners. Lower classes tried to emulate etiquette standards of the nobility. To be rude and ill-mannered was to be an uneducated yokel.

Even as a newly democratic nation, people still had manners. William Penn, George Washington and Ben Franklin all wrote about the importance of good manners in society. Even as recent as the early- and- mid 20th century, it was a different society — ask your grandparents. People still cared about each other and cared about their actions.

While I’m sure you can’t pinpoint the exact moment when douchbaggery became commonplace, I think it could be argued that it started in the late 1960s with one word — hippies. Yes, I’m aware that I wasn’t alive then, but it was when rules became less strict and the economy ballooned. We live in a well-educated, prosperous society, but our manners have regressed back to that of cavemen, clubbing our food and dragging it back to the cave.

Rude behavior today has become normal. We’re all in our own little bubbles with little regard for those around us. But it goes beyond that: it’s become fashionable to be rude. Think of Naomi Campbell. In 2006, she threw her cell phone at her housekeeper. Tune into one of the first few seasons of “America’s Next Top Model” or “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency,” and you could see her berating the contestants, her models or other workers. Tune into any of the hoards of reality shows and you find contestants encouraged to fight each other and win at any cost. Remember “The Simple Life“? Paris Hilton and frenemy Nichole Ritchie acted constantly like d-bags, but people still tuned in week after week.

It’s cool and hip to have your nose in the air. To think that you are better than everyone else and above everyone else. Today we call it confidence, psychologists call it narcissism. I call it douchebaggery and we are living in its age. Gone are the days of grace, humility and good manners. If only I had a time machine.

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Posted by on October 27, 2010 in Uncategorized


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