When Did Bitchy Become Fashionable?

I’m going to do my best to describe her, but I doubt I could do it justice. She is simply a presence, a good one, the sort that walks by with the scent of calm, quiet understanding trailing her. She has the simple gesture of a woman who learned to care for total strangers from her own experiences as a mother.

Now, let’s back this story up a second.

We’ve been here in our new apartment for 8 weeks now. I love this little place. It is doing precisely what I wanted it to do. Break me free from my agoraphobia. And this is the first time in 4 years I’ve been around people for better parts of the day. But, here is the caveat: everyone who lives in this complex is gorgeous, young, pretty….and weirdly in their own heads, terrified of eye contact, terrified of acknowledging another human, terrified of being outside in the world with strangers who could hurt them. (WOW! Sounds like the agoraphobia that crippled me for years! Has the whole world gone mad?)

They stare down at their phones to avoid seeing you, and if they DON’T have their phones, they look at as many strangest places as possible so they don’t have to make eye contact with you. Their heads dart here and there, twitching back and forth to look at something other than you. “Oh, what’s that up there? A cloud….Wow. Clouds.”

I walk by and say, “Good morning,” because that is how I was raised.

But, you get nothing back. Not a thing. You were this shapeless blob of human that they could not be bothered with. And you just wanna shake the SHIT out of them and scream, “RUDE! It’s a salutation, not a commitment!”

Oh, these kids today. Nothing is real if it wasn’t seen first on their devices first….And if they don’t have their devices, if they don’t have their social media, then it never REALLY happened.

But, I have a tendency to walk by this one woman every morning. She is about 50ish, and tends to walk her dog about the same time I’m leaving to go about my errands.

I offer my usual, “Good morning,” and she replies with a bright smile, “Good morning.”

And it makes you think it must be some kind of generational thing. I mean, when did “bitchy” become fashionable, and “politeness” become cause for concern?

I mean, if you cannot accept some total stranger’s wish for a good passage through this madness we call “our day,” then what kind of weird ass world are you living in? WHAT is going on with you?

Maybe that’s just it: if you’re not willing to receive a blessing, then maybe it’s because you’re not capable of offering one yourself. And I cannot help you with that. But, maybe there is an app you can download….

So, this morning when I passed this delightful woman I said, “Good morning.” She responded with her usual genuine smile, “Good morning.”

But, I said more.

“By the way, if I may….”

She turned to me and asked, “Yes?”

“Two things. THAT is one beautiful grey hound. I assume it’s a rescue. And secondly….thank you for being the only person since I’ve moved here to wish me a ‘Good Morning.'”

TO which she replied, “You’re very welcome. And thank you!”

Don’t let your days seek out the harm in people that you’re convinced may or may not hurt you, but look for the blessings people are trying to offer you with absolute conviction instead.

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  1. I blame social media/too much online time. Many young(er) people simply do not know how to act in public. I’ve noticed when I’m out hiking, almost everyone greets one another … except people in their high teens – low 20s. It’s definitely not just you!

  2. Good evening, Yes I think it is an age thing. And it is a blessing in advancing age to have fewer questions to answer and fewer judgmental people to be hurt your feelings…….And of course some people do not have enough stranger danger…….And just because you (me) don’t play dungeons and dragons and read Harry Potter and what not doesn’t make you a non-caring person unworthy of their attention…..Have a great evening!

  3. There are so MANY responses circling my mind. First, courtesy has declined a great deal in the past decade along with respect for others. My husband is physically disabled and total strangers have asked me what’s wrong with him while I’m pushing his wheelchair!

    Secondly, so many people today who are absorbed with their phones are very poor relating to others. Their conversations are superficial and usually brief. Reading body language is foriegn to them.

    I pity these youngsters who are so emotionally dependent on their phones.

  4. As a member of the crossover between GenX and Millenials, I can honestly say that it isn’t because of devices or social media. It’s because parents stopped teaching their kids that politeness and respect for others were worth anything. The parents (Baby Boomers and GenX) of the current youth were way more focused on taking care of their “special” children’s wants and needs, and think that rudeness and manners don’t matter. It’s all about HAPPINESS, after all. It’s much easier to blame technology than it is to blame people; after all, if technology is at fault, we don’t have to DO ANYTHING to fix the problem. It’s beyond our control at that point. =P

    American culture, as a general rule, emphasizes the individual far beyond the group. If you, the individual, are happy, then it doesn’t matter what the people around you think. I mean, consider how often people are told that “not worrying what other people think of you” is a virtue, not a detriment. The fact is, we SHOULD be worried about what others think of us, because it’s generally a pretty good reflection of how we feel about ourselves, particularly the things we are blind to or don’t want to admit.

    I would also like to point out that social interactions vary widely depending on where in the country you happen to be. I hated going out in public when I lived in Virginia Beach, because people there were either oblivious or outright rude. But coming back to Texas has made public chores a much more enjoyable experience – it is common practice here to make eye contact, smile, and say “hi, how are you?” to every stranger who comes within speaking distance.

  5. My husband despairs when I get talking to folk, and accuses me of getting their life stories in a short time, but yes youngsters are so worried about being judged or doing the wrong thing, they are frozen in denial of any one else existing! sad, but keep on with the good mornings and one day they may look up and return the greeting, just be cause they don’t does not mean you shouldn’t. Still want to know when we got so self-centred and lost empathy with others.

  6. Remember when you didn’t want to interact with anyone, didn’t want to make eye contact? Everyone has a reason for their behavior and who are we to judge why? Although I don’t like the current phone obsession, I also know a few young people who suffer from a lot of social anxiety and use social media as a chance to interact.

  7. I’ve been playing a game in Los Angeles for years now. When I walk my dog, (also a Greyhound), I say “Good Morning,” to whoever we encounter. Usually no one under about 25 answers. They have things in their ears, eyes on phones. But with my repeated reaching out to some of the same people who don’t answer me, some have started to respond! Let’s start a revolution!

  8. I read something somewhere quite a while ago, a worker in a store commented on the fact that if they were in the store filling shelves, doing whatever that they were invisible to everyone who passed by them. No one would look at them or speak to them, it was as if they didn’t exist. That struck a cord with me. I never want to make someone feel like they don’t exist. I went into the grocery early a couple of days ago, the stockists were filling the shelves. Everyone I walked by got a “Good Morning” and they seemed happy that I spoke to them and all of them spoke in return. Such a small thing makes someone smile and brightens their day. What does it cost us to be kind?

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