Asshole Culture

(I try to keep the language here wholesome, but sometimes only a certain word will do. If this upsets you, I’m sorry, here’s a puppy you can look at instead.)

A friend of mine is having some problems with his neighbors. They have a bunch of dogs they keep out all day that just bark and bark. My friend tried to discuss this reasonably with them, but the neighbor would have none of it, insisting that my friend couldn’t tell her “how to live her life.”

I don’t know when it was — maybe it’s been forever — that our society decided that being an asshole was not only perfectly acceptable, but something to be proud of. All I know is that I’m tired of it. I don’t find the smartass, the jerk, the insulting, the snarky, to be charming or amusing anymore. Not in pop culture and certainly not in real life.

Somewhere along the way, the supposed values of American culture got sidetracked. We used to value success, but that’s become worshipping naked greed. Individualism has become isolationism and obnoxiousness. And freedom has just become selfishness. Instead of a functioning society, we have one-man armed camps drifting past each other and firing all guns if there’s even a hint of conflict.

It would be easy to suggest that this is actually the Conservative utopia. After all, they’re the ones that believe God rewards the faithful through money, that no one should have to answer to anyone for anything, that caring about your neighbor makes you weak, that you should do unto others before they have a chance to do unto you, that an armed society is a polite society, and that anyone who gets offended at anything that doesn’t involve Jesus or the flag has no sense of humor and is “too PC”. But it’s not just Conservatives doing this, and it’s not only liberals who get annoyed by it. I’m pretty sure that the guy blasting his hip-hop music on his car stereo at 2 a.m. isn’t Conservative. And there’s plenty of liberals who use the excuse of “just having to be themselves” to act self-absorbed and obnoxious.

There was a time, I’m pretty sure, when people didn’t want to be thought of as assholes. Sure, they might be assholes, but they certainly didn’t want anyone to say so. But that’s no stigma anymore. Many folks just shrug if you call them an asshole, many are proud of it.

I think, at its core, it’s just a problem of self-centeredness. Or maybe just I think of self-centered people as assholes, I don’t know. But a lot of it seems to reflect to an idea that you’re the most important person around, nobody else matters, you gotta do what’s best for you or what you feel like doing, and if anyone’s got a problem with it, screw ’em. These aren’t my values, and I am not interested in being part of a society whose values they are.

The United States is 3,537,438 square miles in area. It has a population of 293,027,571. That means, on average, you’re sharing whatever square mile you’re in with 82 other people. How many of those 82 would have to be assholes before it would start to bug you?

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