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Why are people so rude?
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Last week was a week of bad manners! A recap of the infamous events would include:

1). Roger Federer was fined $1,500 for using an obscenity while arguing with the chair umpire during his loss in the final of the U.S. Open.

2). Serena Williams was fined $10,500 for a profanity-laced tirade directed at a U.S. Open line judge.

3). Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, "You lie!" after President Obama denied that health care legislation would provide free coverage for illegal immigrants.

4). Kanye West takes the microphone from singer Taylor Swift as she accepted VMA award.

The fact that these examples of poor manners occurred publicly is important and timely. Television has magnified the growing lack of social decorum and personal restraint. Unfortunately, the actions of these individuals are broadcast throughout our communities, into our living rooms and class rooms, and the sad and troubling fact is that for some, these folks are icons and role models. We have high expectations of these people because they happen to possess extraordinary abilities in sports, politics or entertainment, or because they're millionaires. Now (and finally!) it appears that the rest of us are beginning to understand that celebrities and public figures should be held to the same -- if not greater -- standard to uphold the basics of appropriate public behavior as the rest of us.

Without fail, at least once per week I'm engaged in a conversation which is focused on matters of etiquette and social decorum. The one question that arises each time is "Why are people so rude today?" The question is never answered with any degree of finality or certainty, but I will say there seems to be a current thread running through each instance of rudeness. That thread is what I call the "all about me" syndrome.

Often such instances of lashing out and being rude are statements of self-righteousness and pompousness. Think about it the next time you observe rude or inappropriate behavior. Conversely, etiquette and manners is not about teas, doilies and petite fours, rather it is about doing what makes others feel comfortable. When in doubt, do what makes others feel comfortable. In short, think of others first. Perhaps it may resonate best with some to think of it as "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you."

I recognize this as our global teachable moment. This is our opportunity to reject the poor examples these celebrities have displayed and denounce their actions as inappropriate, unacceptable and rude...period. This is a moment to gather our children and explain that this behavior is not the standard, is not "nice," and is not that way we should treat each other. It's time to remind ourselves (and our children) that it is still appropriate for gentlemen to hold doors open for women, to offer a seat to a standing lady on the subway, and to remove caps and hats while dining. And who would argue that it's certainly time for all of us to use "please" and "thank you" and not answer our cell phones and interrupt a conversation with someone right in front of us? Let us all commit, starting today, to treat others the way we'd like to be treated - with respect and kindness and to think of others first.

Manners are not just a "pay it forward" single act of kindness; rather it is a decision to be kind and thoughtful and to behave in a complimentary fashion. Let's make good manners a habit in our lives ... starting today.

Terri Tillman lives in Ceres and is an etiquette and soft skills consultant. She has a website at