Friday, October 2, 2009

Williams, West, Wilson, WTH?

I came across an interesting tweet from @davesliz (aka “mom”) a few weeks ago:
"West, Williams, Wilson: 3 public names who lost their manners. This is what I'm up against w/my kindergartners!"

Now, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but her remark struck a chord with me. How are her kindergarteners supposed to learn good manners if they have no one to look up to?

I know, of course, that children should learn their manners from parents and family members – not celebrities, and certainly not celebrities like Kanye West! (Who knows how many people he has put out of work because he felt the need to take a break from touring so that he can take some time for personal reflection.)

But what about people like Serena Williams – a woman who has certainly become a role model for young women everywhere; and Rep. Joe Wilson, a man whose profession involves representing the wishes of other people? I wonder how many of his constituents approved of the way he so blatantly expressed his disapproval with the leader of our country?

Are these the types of actions that people in the public eye think acceptable? What am I supposed to say to my three year old the next time we’re watching a tennis match and Serena starts shouting obscenities at the line judge, or a politician makes a derogatory remark during a presidential address? (I’m not worried about MTV exposure, as we don’t have cable, and she can’t work YouTube yet.)

Have our manners become so lax that such rudeness is the norm, trendy even?

As Sandy Banks of the L.A. Times asked in a recent column, “What happened to their manners?” She pointed out that for these three, and countless others, “Rules don't matter, other people's feelings don't matter, respect for institutions doesn't matter. . . . Because it really is all about me.”

Banks’ colleague, Meghan Daum, said in a recent column that three examples equals a trend, and the “trifecta du jour is rudeness. Everyone's doing it.” But she goes on to add that “Amid the rude and uncivilized … are plenty of people who are polite and courteous. At any given time all over the world, folks are helping their neighbors, showing kindness to strangers and refraining from throwing their shoes at world leaders. So why isn't that a trend?”

Good question.

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