A comic deep dive into the modern culture of rudeness.
Humorist Wallace (Who Is Tom Ditto, 2014, etc.) has a quirky sense of humor that is most on-point when he’s on a mission, whether it’s accidentally starting a cult (Join Me, 2003) or saying yes when he should have said no (Yes Man, 2005). Here, inspired by a spectacular conflict with the proprietor of a hot dog joint, the author takes an amusing but highly relevant look at rudeness, its root causes, and how we can fight back. “We think less, react more, and run and jump to conclusions just so we have one, where once we might have ambled to see what happened along the way,” he writes. “We are self-entitled, knee-jerking, know-it-all thunderdicks.” Wallace embarks on a broad investigation of societal and cultural forces relating to rudeness, including power, gender, health, and road rage, backing up his discussions with thoughtful conversations with scientists, psychologists, politicians, and others. A particularly funny story early in the book chronicles a university rector who mooned protesting students only to go on to become the inventive, transformative mayor of Bogotá, Colombia. In another powerful moment, Wallace confronts the online troll who sent him an insulting tweet—in person, face to face. He was also forced to confront the fact that one of the most powerful men in the world is an outright bully: “A rude President is like a rudeness bomb: one explosion and the fallout lasts for years.” The book ends with an urgent call. “This book, I have to admit, began for a silly reason,” writes Wallace. “It could have been a silly book. But more than ever I’ve come to see that civility is not only important, it’s not just the right thing to do. I’ve come to see that it is vital.”
An astute, easily digestible guide to not being a jerk.