Sisterhood Blog

An 'Advice Goddess' on the Age of Rudeness

By Judy Bolton-Fasman

  • Print
  • Share Share
advicegoddess.com
Alkon’s ‘I See Rude People’ (click to enlarge)

Amy Alkon, the witty syndicated advice columnist behind “The Advice Goddess,” thinks rudeness has reached epidemic proportions.

Alkon opens her book “I See Rude People” with a description of being subjected to a stranger’s decibel-crushing cell phone conversation. And woe to the person who shouts out his phone number within earshot of Alkon. She’s at the ready to take down that number and call him back to tell him how rude it is to be conducting loud personal conversations in public spaces.

The L.A.-based Alkon is an advice columnist for the 21st century — grappling with the intricacies of what constitutes polite behavior in these chaotic and unprecedented technological times. “People are basically the same as they always were,” she told The Sisterhood during a recent phone interview. “Technology enables rude people to disseminate rudeness faster and more effectively.”

In the age of Facebook and Twitter it’s easy to have hundreds, even thousands, of “friends” you’ve never met. Alkon adds that, “extremely affordable airplane travel … and the spread of affordable long-distance communications technology creates societies too big for our brains.” She ferrets out a study done in Great Britain, positing that we only have the capacity for about 150 relationships.

“Rudeness occurs because we live in societies too big for our brains,” she said. “[W]e’re always around people who owe us nothing.”

Alkon, who is today a striking redhead who wears a lot of sunscreen and dresses up in evening gowns in the middle of the day, claims she had “the worst childhood” on the planet. Her family was among the first Jewish families to move to her tony Michigan suburb, where anti-Semitism was as common as manicured lawns. “Kids egged my house and called me a dirty Jew,” she said. “You develop a sense of empathy when you’ve been the underdog.”

You also develop a sense of humor, she said.

After college, Alkon worked at a New York advertising firm. During her lunch hour she and her colleagues set up tables on street corners to give ad hoc advice. “We were pranksters, but people love free advice on anything from hairstyles to spelling,” she said. “People like to know things.”

And Alkon liked to tell them. “Giving advice is an art form,” she said.

No discussion of manners or lack thereof is complete without talking about children. “I was raised by loving fascists,” Alkon said. “It was unthinkable to be really loud in a restaurant or kick someone’s chair during a movie.” In “I See Rude People,” she devotes a chapter to the “under-parented child” — a child who is basically feral and has to be negotiated with constantly.

As far as being a parent herself: “I figured out that I didn’t want it. Once you make the baby it’s about the baby.”

She’s been with her boyfriend for eight years and said that marriage doesn’t make sense for people who love their independence as much as they love their partner. “In the end, you get the relationships you create,” Alkon said.

And, apparently, the children you raise.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rude, Amy Alkon, Advice

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.