Lynne Truss nails it

Consideration for others being the foundation for manners, children ought to be taught to use the courtesy words because they thereby learn an important social habit: to remember there are other people in the world. I think it is right to say, “Excuse me” [to others] when answering one’s phone on the train. I think it is right to say, “Thank you” to the driver when alighting from a bus. We are not invisible to one another. Attention must be paid. The problem . . . is that people are increasingly unwilling to admit, when they are out in public, that they are not nevertheless–through sheer force of will–actually in private. When they are on trains, or in the street, or in a queue for taxis, they can’t say the courtesy words because to do so would explode their idea of the entire experience, which is that they alone and that nobody else exists. They are, I believe, afraid to speak to other people. Hence the astonishing aggression that is unleashed if you challenge them. If you speak to them, you scare them.

Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door (2005), 59 (emphasis original).

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