“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot…”
― Robert A. Heinlein
It seems to me that there is a difference between intentional and unintentional rudeness. When people are rude intentionally most often they are trying to make a point. “I feel anger towards you and want you to know it.”, “I am afraid or uneasy and I don’t want you to know it” or “I find you ridiculous and / or self important and I want to show it.” Each of these three show a special consideration for the object of their rudeness. A fourth case of intentional rudeness would be “I am demonstrating our relative importance by showing I can be rude to you.” This also in its way demonstrates consideration. In each case it is a form of communication, perhaps dubious in execution but shows awareness of the other person.
Unintentional rudeness however is almost the opposite. It involves being so preoccupied with whatever one is doing that the other person does not even register. It could be as simple as a teenager texting on their cell phone to a clerk in a store, being so busy modelling or hoping for a particular type of customer to approach them that everyone else gets dismissed. This is the type of rudeness that I believe Mr. Heinlein referred to and is becoming more and more prevalent in our culture. We have lost touch with the niceties. Everything from inquiring about how the person you are talking to is doing to holding doors for another, even down to saying please and thank you. Since most of us are raised with these niceties drummed into us, it causes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance every time we avoid them. It definitely involves a loss of empathy and awareness that is crucial if we are ever to approach maintaining this world as a fit place to live.
Click on images to see full-sized: