Charlotte de Vreeze-Nauta argues that people have become more egocentric and less respectful than ever before.

Last Wednesday, this website published an article about how restaurants are increasingly dealing with ill-mannered clients who do not cancel their reservations. According to the restaurateur that was quoted, he deals with 40 to 60 lost clients per month due to no-shows.

You don’t need to be a financial wizard to understand that this can be quite a financial set-back for a restaurant. The food you have to throw out because it’s not eaten, the hiring of staff that you don’t need after all because you could do with one waiter less if a few tables stay empty. Stuff like that.

And according to the interviewee, this lack of manners has become worse since the pandemic. It appears that people have become more egocentric and less respectful than ever before.

Post pandemic impertinence

I’ve read more articles along those same lines. According to some, going out to a pub has changed drastically since the pandemic because young people do not know how to behave themselves.

Before the pandemic, there was a natural influx of new pub-goers every day or every week, as kids got older and were allowed to go out. So pubs would have a large crowd of people that had been going out for a long time and a smaller crowd of people that just started going out. The smaller group of new guests would come in, look around and adapt to how things are done at a bar, probably not even consciously. But they would adjust. You know, assimilate.

Covid lockdowns have changed that completely. Kids that finally reached the age to go out during the pandemic had to wait for months to be able to do so. By the time the measures were lifted, it wasn’t just a few new kids on the block going out. It was thousands of them.

The moment bars reopened, those ‘few’ youths that would usually assimilate to the by-far-larger group of experienced pub visitors now became the majority. Compare it to water and a dam. They were like millions of litres of water that had built up behind a dam, causing the dam to burst open. The experienced pub-goers became a minority, and the inexperienced ones were on their own, without the normal process of adaptation to new surroundings, but instead left to make their own rules. No more assimilation, it was Lord-of-the-Flies-style survival of the fittest.

The pandemic, and in particular some of the measures that were forced upon us at the time, seem to have launched us into a new era. An era in which politeness is regarded as old fashioned. An era in which looking at the experienced for the right example is regarded as uptight. A time in which manners that used to open doors are now regarded as outdated hindrances that will lead to the door being shut in your face.

The response to Wednesday’s article is illustrative of that fact.

The restaurateur, a man that has his life’s income in a bit of a squeeze, is criticized in the comments for speaking up about the lack of manners and respect. All he asks is that people cancel a reservation if they decide not to eat in his restaurant. Is that too much to ask? Isn’t it normal to cancel a reservation if you cannot follow-up on it? And isn’t it highly disrespectful not to do so?

But instead of this guy receiving comments like ‘Amen’ and ‘Bravo’ for addressing the increase in incivility, he is met with criticism and offensive remarks. Some of these people say that it is completely acceptable not to cancel a dinner reservation and think that no-shows are perfectly normal. What the actual f…?!

By the way, these people went on to say that the restaurant owners probably even caused the cancellations. They found it necessary to comment on the quality of the restaurant or the fact that one has to pay for water. According to them, the restaurant would not have cancellations if the food were better and the water free…

What does one have to do with the other? If you don’t like the food, you don’t make a reservation. Making a reservation therefore implies that you do like the food and accept the fact that you have to pay for the water. It’s that simple. How stupid are people to connect those two completely unrelated topics.

The world upside down

But I’m drifting off a bit. The point is that the restaurant owners complained about the lack of respect and manners of people who do not cancel their reservation and then some people gave the restaurant owners hell.

It’s the world upside down. Anarchy. And there is a reason that anarchy is not associated with peace and pleasantness. It’s not just the restaurant owners that should be upset. We should all be. And worried.

What is to become of us – and those we are an example to – if we do not have any common courtesy anymore? Human beings are social creatures. We depend on one another, need to live with one another, and therefore need social codes as to make our social interaction work. We learn those codes from others by following both written and unwritten rules of how to behave. In case those rules are broken, we get a a slap on the wrist, a fine, or worse.

The restaurant owners gave a very correct slap on the wrist by expressing their frustration. A frustration, mind you, that costs them their income. And what do some people do? Kick them while they are down. It’s disgusting.

The more I read, the more I am drawn to living as a recluse. It must be quite wonderful to shut oneself off from this decaying ‘civilization’ on our decaying planet and live in blissful ignorance of the ugliness building up around us.

But I am too much of a social person to live like a hermit. That is, as long as I get to be social in places where people are educated and assimilated enough to know how to behave.