Have you noticed that there are some rude people in this world? I’m sure you have. Just interacting with people means you will occasionally run into folks who are less than nice. If we judge manners solely by comments made online, the Internet is full of very rude people indeed. The question then is, why are they so rude? Are anonymous people just plain rude because they feel divorced from the other person, or are they just jerks?

As I see it, the more we feel removed from others, the fewer social pressures exist to be nice. I’ve been playing Lord of the Rings Online, and while most people are nice to each other, there have been the occasional jerks. I prefer to believe they are nicer in person.

But not everyone is nice in person. While we were standing in line to enter the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland last year, about a dozen preteen kids rudely pushed their way past us in line. Each one was wearing a T-shirt announcing that they were part of the Colegio Americano de Mexicali. I can understand how anxious kids are to get in fast, but the really surprising rudeness came a few seconds letter when, I assume, a teacher from the Colegio elbowed her way past us. She didn’t say “Excuse me” or even “Con permiso“. She just muscled her way past us to join the rest of the kids who had cut ahead in line. And she wasn’t there to haul their line-cutting butts back to the end of the line, either; she simply moved along with them. Perhaps this group thought everyone in the crowd would give them a pass because they were visitors from out of the country, or perhaps they believed their rudeness didn’t matter because they were just a few more anonymous faces in a crowd, but their T-shirts proclaimed who they were, and so they demonstrated to everyone in that line the rudeness and boorish behavior of everyone from the Colegio Americano de Mexicali. I wonder, was that the message they really wanted to give people in Disneyland?

Cultures have different ideas about forming lines to wait for something. The U.S. is pretty good about forming lines, and the Brits do a great job of queuing up in an orderly fashion. But Russians and Indians tend to just push their way forward. If I were a psychologist, I’d suggest they push their way forward because they lack faith that anything will be there for them when they get to the front of the line, or perhaps they view themselves as being entitled to anything they want just because of who they are. Such people might consider themselves too important to have to wait in line. But how does that affect the people who wait patiently in line? They’re probably about as happy as I was when the obnoxious Colegio kids pushed past me in Disneyland.

Incidentally, how do you think our legal immigrants view the illegal immigrants who are rudely pushing their way into the country?