Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rudeness as self-empowerment

There has bee some fretting lately about the apparent increase of rude and inconsiderate behavior in all sorts of settings. I guess must be seen as yet another alarmist campaign targeting an which practically begs for a positive spin. And this is provided quite nicely by NYT humorist Joyce Wadler. She describes how she found herself suddenly transformed from being a ridiculously polite and courteous person to someone who would blurt out rude rebuttals, rebukes, turndowns, putdowns, etc. at unsuspecting strangers. At first she was a bit annoyed at her newly found verbal disinhibition. But then she discovered something amazing – it turned out this new mode of speaking up held a big promise.

Here is Wadler’s revelatory self-verdict: “I like the newer, blunter me. I sense a whole new world opening up.” I can almost sense viscerally in these words the exhilaration we associate with personal liberation and empowerment. Some cultural critics have quipped that this may not be exactly the kind of freedom those who stormed the Bastille or died to stop the Nazis fought for. But, as Wadler concludes, she wouldn’t be interested in any judgmental comments directed at her new persona. And this must be liberating and empowering, too.