What can any of us do about bad manners?


One great example of perfect manners!

This article first appeared in the Sunday Herald Sun

RUDE people. They’re everywhere. The way so  many are completely obsessed with themselves, it’s as they’ve forgotten they live in a society full of others, who are also people.

Instead, the self-obsessed seem to think that society exists only to serve their needs, as they alone occupy the very centre of it.

Which leads to a world where examples of poor etiquette are easier to spot than parallel parking fails, overpriced sushi and children wandering into traffic as they play Pokemon Go.

The individuals never consider that others might also want to use the road and/or footpath, aren’t interested in overhearing their music or telephone call, and might appreciate a clean bathroom stall.

I’m obviously not the first person to complain about all this; back in caveman times the first opinion ever expressed was probably a gripe about Grug who eats all the berries, always lights his fire upwind of camp, and never goes outside the cave to pass wind.

Back then, however, the cavemen did have one advantage.

Anyone who wasn’t into the whole society thing was excluded from it. So they starved to death, or were eaten by the giant killer koalas or bilbies or drop bears or whatever they had back then.

These days, unfortunately, allowing people with bad manners to starve to death is no longer socially acceptable.

For a while, I’ve been wondering what we can do about all the rude people, and I’m a bit stuck. When confronted with them, which happens to me several times a day, I’ve tried saying, “Excuse me!”

But all I get back is a puzzled grimace, as if I’m the one causing the offence.

A few times I’ve even attempted, in a friendly and respectful way, to explain the proper etiquette appropriate to a given situation. Only to be forcefully advised to shut my mouth and insert all manner of objects into myself.

Sometimes I even pick up litter that I’ve seen people drop and put it in the bin, hoping they notice and it inspires a learning experience. Seriously, I do this all the time and the only reaction I’ve ever received are cold stares that say: “You are the definition of disgusting.’’

Then on social media, those with proper manners seem to outnumber those without.

Why then, out in real life, are they nowhere to be found?

It’s as if the keyboard warriors are content to cast judgment hiding behind the worldwide web, while doing nothing about the problem in the big wide world, where it matters.

This article first appeared in the Sunday Herald Sun

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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