Douchebaggery Springs Eternal: How Rudeness Defines You

When my daughter and I spent our first night together in the hospital, I gave her an extensive overview of what this life thing is all about. I began my lecture (it was a fairly one-sided conversation) with five essential words of advice: “Always be nice

Recently, while reminiscing about a T-shirt store in my old neighborhood in the socialmediasphere (shit gets wild out there on my Facebook page sometimes) and chatting with my old pal, local musician and artist Brian Cammerer (I saw and played many shows with his great band Higbee), I remembered we grew up on the same street. He lived on the Cincinnati side, I was in Cheviot — the city divider line split the street in two. You could tell by the different garbage pickup days and after snowstorms. Cheviot plowed immediately; Cincy got around to it.

I also remembered that Glenn “Skipper” Ryle lived on the same street when we were youngsters. Skipper was a modest Cincy broadcast legend. I’m pretty sure he was a weatherman by the time we shared a street, but he also hosted the popular local gameshow-ish Bowling For Dollars, a children’s show and many other programs.

At my age, it was most impressive to me that he could predict the future.

I only slightly knew Ryle from his kids’ show. Still, seeing him age and deteriorate, becoming less friendly and walking slower every day to that giant boat-of-a-fancy-car, was a lot to process for a little kid. It was like seeing Captain Kangaroo’s face and skin melt off and his body crumble to ash in painfully slow motion.

OK, observing an increasingly grumpy Skipper live out his golden years was hardly that bad. It was a useful reality check, a lesson that everyone’s pretty much the same — we’re all going to die, and kids’ TV show hosts are never, ever that happy and patient all the time (cough, Uncle Al, cough).

It may have triggered my first existential crisis. Seriously — I vividly remember being shaken to the core when I finally got what “dying” really meant, right around this same era. But none of this made me lose any awe or wonder when it came to looking up to TV hosts, musicians, actors, writers, artists and other entertainers.

Even after seeing Uncle Al be mean to kids, it still all seemed like magic. And often still does, even after meeting a lot of those (much kinder) creative types doing interviews for my job.

Or maybe that direct interaction only enhances the mystique, especially when the creative types are good souls. Most have been — except you, Ween: I still think you guys are total dicks.

Though a cantankerous broadcaster and asshole joke band didn’t turn me off completely to wanting to meet artists and entertainers, their rudeness (real or imagined) stuck with me. It’s forever the first thing I will think of when I hear their names.

When my daughter and I spent our first night together in the hospital, we chatted all night and I gave her an extensive overview of what this life thing is all about. While her mom drifted off, I began my lecture (it was a fairly one-sided conversation) with five essential words of advice: “Always be nice to people.”

Those spontaneous words are often on my mind when I experience rudeness from random people, such as commenters online (the breeding ground for much of today’s rudeness epidemic). I’m baffled by the poor judgment utilized when using Facebook to comment, with your name, photo, business or employer stamped right next to your offensive keyboard lashing.  As for anonymous commenters, they’re even more disheartening because they prove that people presented with the option to express whatever nasty thoughts enter their brain (ones they’d never say in person or with their real name attached), they jump on it eagerly and without hesitation. Instead of thoughtful dialogue, most people would rather just call people with whom they disagree dicks and douchebags.

But your actions and the way you treat people — all of us, as humans —  can often leave huge, lasting impressions on others, whether you see it or not. Just ask young people who are bullied for their sexuality, falling apart as a result of being called “faggot” once too often. Or, since such insult-hurlers are likely selfish, world-revolves-around-me types, maybe it needs to be pointed out — your cruel words reflect poorest on you.

Why not play it safe and be kind whenever possible? Next time you prep a perfectly insensitive comment or participate in real-world rudeness with a waiter, cashier or bartender, step back and ask, “Do I want to be known as the person who once said such nonsense?” Because many of us will indeed remember you that way. Forever.

It’s your right to have “asshole” be your default first impression or remain anonymous King or Queen Dickhead of the web. Your prerogative, Bobby Brown. Just stay the hell away from me, you narcissistic sociopath.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or @CityBeatMusic

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