Why is it that people simply don't think?

I have been biting my tongue while reading through this thread, debating whether I should say the same thing. Once upon a time in this country manners and courtesy were taught and expected and people could count on it when out in public. Sure, there were still some self-absorbed doofuses who would behave that way but that behavior wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today. People these days, however, have become accustomed to acting pretty much in any way they want because now they’re “free” from such uptight societal constraints as manners and consideration for others, and now they feel they are entitled to dress and act however they want based on their whim of the moment. So, they get to the point in the aisle where they want to look at something and the furthest thing from their mind is that they may be inconveniencing someone else.

Stopping on the escalator. Do they not think that their legs continue to work? Or around these parts, they have underground parking garages with moving walkways at angles to serve as ramps. The grocery carts have brakes so they don’t get out of control. Please, at least think and park your stupid cart on the right side of the ramp so that people with working legs can pass you!

Back home, the average grocery shopper seems much more intelligent than the average grocery shopper here. You know, we do tend to keep right, pass on the left, not leave carts in the middle of narrow aisles, and allow people to pass us when we’re slow. Not here.

Whose turn was it to corral Starving Artist this week? Cause he done got out again.

As for the rest, I think it’s that people really are just clueless and oblivious. It’s the same thing with driving - people just don’t plan ahead. I try to plan ahead, you know, to make the least amount of difficult left turns, and try to make my commute - and other people’s as clean as possible. Not so others. They can only see direct from goal to goal - no matter if it’s a bass-ackwards way to do it.

As for Starving Artist, the only way, the only way, to cope with it, is not to come on here bitching to everyone about how rude the world is - what the heck is that going to accomplish, other than alienating people, which admittedly you’re good at - but to go out and continue your own practice of civility, every day, and everywhere. I do so.

I always say that civility may not make the world go round but it sure greases the wheels.

I specifically call this “the Center of the Universe problem.”

I think it is mainly the educational system. It seems to produce people who are afraid to think for themselves. Which is why people vote for the same pandering politicians, over and over. The highschool system is part of this-it forces people who have no interest in education, to sit through classes (and disrupt them as they see fit). The curriculum is increasingly “dumbed down”-with little geography, world history, American History, or practical mathematics. Which produces kids who have no understanding of world affairs, and cannot understand compound interest.(This is what the elite wants, so the graduates can become consumer slaves, to be exploited at every turn).

Did you think of this yourself?

I AM only person in the whole universe. The rest of you are figments of my imagination and therefore inferior to ME and subject to my whims!
<snerk>

It occurs at all levels. This morning I almost ran head-on into a cop car that was parked in the middle of the driveway into school. The cop was sitting there trying to nail speeders down the boulevard. But really, in the middle of the driveway? When you know teachers are going to be trying to get to work? That’s just plain stupid.

Same discussion 2 weeks ago … http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=531918 Pretty much the same conclusions too.

My theory is that most people are incredibly self-centered, myself included. They’re usually in their own mental bubble and most people think about what others do that affects them, not vice versa. The OP is sort of reminiscent of that. “Why are these people doing such annoying things to me? Don’t they realize that others are around?!?” I’m not saying that as a criticism - it’s completely normal.

It’s kind of like when you do something you think is really embarrassing but no one even notices. But most people doing embarrassing things don’t realize that - they’re too busy making sure others don’t think they’re stupid because it’s all about what they look like and how others see them.

I was taught to be considerate of others. Some were not, but I feel should have been, if they are going to live in a society rather than a cave somewhere. It might be hard to change habits, but would certainly be worthwhile for them to retrain themselves as adults. It would spare a lot of hard feelings.

As usual you guys provide some very nice insights, I especially like this post though

I also agree with the idea that much of this starts in our lack of education system.

Many years ago I was reading an article about the safety of cars, that postulated that one reason we don’t think (or haven’t been trained to think) as much as we used to is because our world is getting so much “safer” that we no longer need a heightened sense of situational awareness.

I can’t remember if the article referred to any kind of study, but I do remember it suggesting that as cars got safer and safer, the roads became more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists because drivers aren’t being as careful as they used to be. The idea was that a car accident is much less likely to kill you if you’re in the car nowadays, so you don’t pay as much attention as a driver would have back in the 1930s when there were no seatbelts or airbags to protect you if you had a fender bender with a tree.

So as you feel safer in your surroundings, you don’t invest as much energy observing your environment for potential threats.

While there is some, hell, a lot of, center-of-the-universe syndrome, I think there’s a big segment that just does not think ahead.

I’ve just bought groceries. Crap! I’ve got to get money out.
I’ve gotten to the top of the escalator. Crap! Where do I go now?
Cart in the middle of the aisle? That’s just rectal-cranial inversion. No real cure aside from massive dosages of clue-bat.

I think some of that reaction also has to do with the many distractions that are around us all the time. Everywhere you look, in stores, on the roadside, etc. there are shiny, colorful, often moving ads, or a phone ringing, or a text message to respond to, or a tv screen, or something to distract you from the task at hand. It used to be that when you drove you had only the radio to occupy your mind, and while shopping you didn’t have 5,000 things giving you sensory overload. We were not meant to multitask this way, our brains are not really very good at it. You can only truly focus on one thing at a time but now the norm is to try to do 2 or 3. But if you are looking at a screen or talking on the phone it is hard to pay attention to the people around you and what you are doing in relationship to them.

I don’t think that’s why people stop at the top of escalators - they stop to look around and decide which direction to go. Since you can’t see where you are going until you get there, it just makes sense to stop and look around. Unfortunately, this is inconvenient for the people behind you who are going to want to do the same thing.

Yes, but there is no reason why you can’t step to the side. If I’m lost when I’m driving, I pull over to look at the map. I don’t just come to a dead stop in the middle of the road and park there while I read the Google Maps directions I printed.

Coming out of some revolving doors and don’t know which way to go? Step to the side, then get your bearings.

I think it really is this simple. I’ve often thought my life would be a lot easier if I could just ignore everything I’ve been taught and just be a clueless asshole like everyone else, but I can’t, because I know better. If you don’t know any better, it’s easy to just pull up into the fire lane and hop out of your car.

I don’t see this problem getting any better, because clueless people won’t teach their kids any better because they truly don’t know any better.

Only if you’re at ground level. Once your head pops up above the floor level, there’s plenty to see. That should give you a good five or six seconds to determine a path so that you can get the hell out of the way.

Or, indeed: “Think of the average American*. Pretty dumb, huh? Now remember that half the population is even dumber than that.”
*Or any other nationality you like.