Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Rudeness has got completely out of hand since I was young. In fact rudeness is now a feeble description of the routine viciousness and spite aimed at everyone from celebrities down to cheating spouses and badly-dressed schoolgirls. We need a much stronger word to sum up this wholesale character assassination.

When I was a kid, rudeness never went much further than telling someone to get lost, take a running jump, mind their own business, keep their nose out of it. The blunt swearwords of today like fuck, cunt, prick, arse-licker, were seldom heard and "bloody fool" or "blithering idiot" were the height of disdain.

But now rudeness has morphed into something utterly hideous. It's standard practice for people to face death threats, rape threats, grotesque sexual fantasies, savage attacks on every aspect of their clothing and appearance, the hope that they'll get terminal cancer or some nasty disease, and the most extreme abuse imaginable.

I don't know why people feel the need for such ferocious attacks, but they've turned public discourse into something horrific, a sort of verbal bloodbath that leaves its victims reeling. The familiar decent, considerate Brit of yesterday seems increasingly scarce, elbowed out by the spitting, snarling Brit of the Twittersphere.

I long for a return to that innocent era when people kept their insults within sensible limits, didn't set out deliberately to hurt and distress, but merely wished to show disapproval without causing too much offence.

I can't imagine sending a death threat to anyone - or anything half as cruel. In fact I seldom insult anybody, even in the mildest terms, as I know how hurtful the slightest put-down can be. I can only be insulting if I'm furiously angry, and that's not often.

Simple rudeness has turned into an ugly, slavering monster.


  1. I think self obsession and self entitlement is the centre of all rudeness

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Ursula: No, I won't indulge you. If you wish to criticise other bloggers like John and Rachel, please have the courage to do it directly on their blogs and not on mine.

    I have deleted your comment.

  4. John: I think you're spot on there. People who are totally oblivious to the other person's feelings and sensitivities.

  5. Maybe I'm living in a bubble Nick but I don't see it at all unless on the briefest of headlines in some rag as I go by? Are you up against it in NI or something. It seems to be have touched a nerve of yours.

    I only apply the word "rudeness" to appalling table manners.

    The rest of such behaviours would be covered under bullying and violence and there is far too much of that. Particularly against women and children here. A 5 year old little girl murdered a few miles from here yesterday by her father who wanted to make his ex-partner suffer forever.


  6. www: Well, I imagine there's not much of that sort of extreme abuse in Newfoundland, but here in the UK it's widespread - mainly from the Twitterati and the internet but also from other sources like stalkers. Virtually every day there's a story of someone who's been hounded relentlessly. The victims are shattered mentally and emotionally, and some of them commit suicide.

    The sort of sick story you mention - a father killing his daughter to unhinge his ex-partner - crops up from time to time here as well.

  7. I long for the days when people put clothes on before leaving the house. I think those were the same days.

  8. Shawn: Come again? Are you referring to the contemporary trend for wearing very skimpy clothing and showing acres of bare flesh?

  9. I think it goes like this, "sticks and stones will break my bones but words won't harm me" - which is not always true - I think anything said in a horrible way, whether it be a swear word or a simple word like the word "stupid", is always hurtful for who receives it. Greetings Maria x

  10. Maria: That particular saying is utter nonsense. Of course words can hurt you, sometimes even more than physical blows if they hit an emotional nerve. I agree, the word "stupid" is always hurtful and one I hate hearing myself.

  11. I think John hit the nail on the head with his comment.
    The rudest people you meet are usually those who are too wrapped up in their own egos to give a damn about anyone else.
    But although such behaviour is certainly on the increase, I still think that it's the exception rather than the rule.
    Most people are OK as long as you don't piss them off.

  12. Dave: Yes, this extreme viciousness is still probably the exception, but it seems to be on the increase. Egotism has a lot to do with it, both the egotism of not tolerating disagreement and the egotism of attention-seeking.

  13. I must lead a sheltered life. I'm not aware of more meanness than the old petty stuff.

  14. Rude had a lot of definitions. There is a cashier at a store I frequent who never greets or thanks me. Some might say she's just unfriendly, but I think she's rude.

  15. The comments on articles in 'The Guardian' bear out your point.

  16. Of course stalking is itself a form of extreme rudeness/abuse.

  17. Jean: You do lead a sheltered life (like a lot of us). Stories about people whose lives have been turned upside down by Twitter campaigns, concerted bullying, relentless stalking etc, crop up day after day in the media.

    Bijoux: That's the sort of simple everyday rudeness that's been overtaken by extreme, no-holds-barred abuse.

  18. Helen: Ah, you understand me completely! That's a good example. The media comment columns are full of foul tirades, many of which are deleted by the papers concerned because they're so offensive. Some papers are considering scrapping comment columns altogether for that reason.

  19. Being rude / using unparliamentary language etc shows insensitivity.

  20. Ramana: It's a lot more than unparliamentary language. The odd dodgy word in the Commons is a flea-bite compared to the torrents of hate that pour out of the internet. It's like an open sewer at times.

  21. you should be in america nick.
    they have quit being rude. now they just take out their 'allowed' gun and shoot you!
    it sounds like i'm making light of it. but it's sadly true in a lot of cases. it's past ridiculous now. it's a national epidemic.
    i just fly WAY UNDER the radar of all that crap.
    and it is... crap.
    i don't want to know about it. i don't want it in my head or my house!
    so i tend to be unaware of it like monk.
    one of my FAVORITE! movies is 'the ghost and mrs muir' with rex harrison and gene tierney. she has the NERVE to say "blast!" in it and you would think she used the F word. maybe for that time ...
    it was! LOLOL.
    if you haven't seen it you would like it i think.
    i'm still waiting for you to tell me you've seen 'the birdcage' with robin williams and nathan lane! your inner spirit need to see it.
    you will laugh until you cry. i promise you that.
    uh oh. i've gone on too long. and now i'm way off course! sorry.

  22. Tammy: Indeed, why bother with death threats, just get out your gun and shoot the person you dislike. Not to mention all the accidental shootings.

    By a strange coincidence, Jenny's last name is Muir. And I completely forgot about The Birdcage. I must check it out without further delay!

  23. You are right, and I often compare modern ways with 'the decline and fall of the Roman empire'. It worked with Rome; it'll probably work here too.

  24. Cro: You understand me as well. We could very well go the way of the Roman Empire if standards of public behaviour continue to slide.