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Sense of Entitlement Monday July 9, 2012

Sense of Entitlement

It used to be just millionaires, athletes, and politicians who felt they were entitled to have and do everything they wanted. Now, it seems more and more people have this same inflated sense of entitlement. I've had friends tell me it's because of the current "You are awesome, everyone gets a medal" trend in parenting. That may be partly true. But it's not just the young generation that has this entitled attitude.

For example, I was walking through a shopping centre parking lot the other day and a full-grown man put his groceries into his car and then pushed the cart behind the adjacent car and drove off.

He didn't return the cart to the corral. He didn't even move it somewhere out of the way. He wasn't in a handicap parking spot or have a handicap sticker on his car. He just felt entitled to pass it off for someone else - someone undoubtedly "less important" than him - to do.

Similarly I was in a coffee shop, and when a group of people left their table they just left their garbage behind. Even though they had to walk past the garbage can to leave the shop, they felt entitled to leave a mess for the next customers or employees.

We all run into these people every day. The ones that feel that they're above the rules of common courtesy. You know them. They block your driveway. They steal the parking spot you have been obviously waiting for. They smoke in a no smoking area and they take the disabled parking spot even though they are clearly not PHYSICALLY disabled.

I don't think it's just plain rudeness, either. I think these people genuinely believe that they're entitled to inconvenience and annoy everyone else because they're "better than them".

You may call it being rude, but I think it is more than that. I think we are suffering a breakdown in social values. There used to be consequences for this type of behavior, but as communities grow larger, and you don't know your neighbors some people become more indifferent to others.

Next, I think modern entertainment has an effect. No, I don't blame Marilyn Manson for making kids kill their parents or video games for turning people into carjackers. But when virtually every movie and TV program features a cool and respected lead character who "plays by his own rules" or who achieves success and popularity by being a self-centered jerk, there has to be some effect. I see more and more anti-heroes being portrayed as people to respect and emulate. In current entertainment, even the authority figures - hey, didn't they used to be role models? - are shown as smoking, drinking, ignoring the law, and treating everyone around them like inferiors. I don't know. Maybe entertainment is just putting a mirror up to society. But when you put a mirror in front of that mirror, well, you know what happens.