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Bad Public Behavior

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.


Notice the focus of this article is not calling anyone "weird" or "strange." It is the bad behavior that has caught our attention because there is so much of it. Also, this behavior is being exhibited by people we never expected to act so badly.

Olga Khazan, the author of the Atlantic article, and this writer agree that bad behavior is on the rise. It is causing people to mind their p's and q's about what they say and do.

Some strange behavior in the news today includes the following:

  • Increased crimes, including murder
  • Unruly passengers on airplanes
  • The Oscar slap that was seen around the world

The relevant question is: Why are people behaving badly?

Actor Will Smith slaps comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards

Actor Will Smith slaps comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards

The Oscar Slap

The most recent and widely covered strange occurrence happened on Sunday March 22, 2022 at the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California when actor Will Smith walked on stage and slapped host Chris Rock across his face during his monologue. Rock simply made a GI Jane joke, but the reference was sensitive because Will's wife Jada Pinkett Smith has shaved her head because she has alopecia. At first, Will was laughing at the joke until he saw Jada roll her eyes.

All comedians roast people in the audience when they are hosting award shows. Chris did not know about Jada Pickett Smith's struggle with hair loss. Since then Will Smith has resigned his membership from the Academy and has been banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years.

People are still talking about the incident weeks after it happened. It was televised around the world. Millions of people saw it and heard the foul language Smith used when he went back to his seat. Later Smith was seen celebrating and dancing at one of the afterparties.

Admittedly, Will Smith's behavior was seen and talked about on a wide scale, but that is not the only bad public behavior that has been in recent news.

Airplane Misbehavior

During the last week of March, a man was arrested at the Atlanta airport for punching a gate agent who was only doing his job.

A plane bound for Washington, D.C. in February had to make an emergency landing in Kansas City, Missouri after a man tried to break into the cockpit.

Skiing Misbehavior

In February, a man at a Canadian resort is seen in a viral video with one foot strapped into his snowboard as he flailed at security guards and refused to comply with a mask mandate.

In a separate video, another maskless man on a ski shuttle was screaming curse words at a passenger who was wearing a mask.

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Bad Behavior Everywhere

No place is exempt from being a venue for bad behavior. According to the FAA, the highest number of unruly passengers on airplanes was in early 2021. Journalist Matt Yglesias reported in 2022 that some Americans have become reckless drivers on the highways. They are crashing their cars, driving into crowds of people and killing pedestrians at higher rates than in past years.

Healthcare workers say patients are behaving more violently than ever before. Missouri hospitals planned to attach panic buttons on the outfits of workers.

The murder rate in the United States had the largest increase on record in 2020. It rose again in 2021. Car thefts went up 14 percent in 2021, and there was a rise in carjackings.

Why So Much Bad Public Behavior?

Keith Humphreys, a psychiatry professor at Stanford, believes the COVID-19 pandemic has a lot to do with bad behavior because people are at their breaking point. They have been dealing with situations they can't control, such as unemployment, the death of a loved one, medical issues, an increase in gas and food prices, and a big spike in housing costs.

While some people are angry with the way things are going in the world today, others are fearful about what will happen later on down the road. They have a lot of pent-up emotions and fly off the handle at things that would not have affected them in the past.

This writer believes people should keep a check on their emotions and recognize the trigger that might make them misbehave. It is at those times that they should not be around others. They hate on those they think are doing better than they are without realizing that everyone is dealing with the same things and we are all in this together.

Possible Reasons For Bad Behavior

Dozens of experts on crimes and psychology have explained a few possible reasons that people are acting badly.

Everyone Is Stressed Out

Stress is causing bad behavior. Everyone has always had stress, but the pandemic has caused people to become even more agitated. That stress has to be released in some way. Unfortunately, people have allowed their stress to be released in negative ways, such as in rage, frustration, and bad behavior toward others and even sometimes toward themselves.

When Christine Porath, a business professor at Georgetown University, collected data on why people behave in rude or uncivil ways, she found that stress was at the top of the list.

People Are Drinking More

Some people are trying to cope with the pandemic by drinking. Those who did not drink before the pandemic have started to drink. Those who were already drinking have begun to drink more than usual. Statistics show that Americans have been drinking at least 14 percent more during the pandemic than before. Also, drug use has increased since 2019.

More Guns Are Being Bought

There has been an uptick in the murder rate because Americans are buying more guns. Gun sales rose in 2020 and 2021. Police noted that nearly twice as many firearms were purchased in 2020 than in 2019. Police also revealed that thousands of guns purchased in 2020 were immediately used in crimes.

People Are Dealing with Isolation

People are social beings, and some just can't stand not being around others. Isolation has been a big problem for those who can't socialize like they've been accustomed to doing in the past. Employees can't interact with co-workers because they are working from home. Schoolchildren can't be with their classmates. Churches are either closed or have limited time for their members to fellowship with others.

Sociologist Robert Sampson studies social disorders at Harvard. He is convinced that isolation has shifted the way people behave.

Scholar Émile Durkheim concludes that since people have stopped being social, many have also stopped being moral. This writer believes people fail to use the Golden Rule to do unto others as they would have it done unto them (Matthew 7:12). Also, she believes some people use the pandemic as an excuse for their misbehavior.

Mental Illness Might Be the Cause

Mental illness can be the cause of some bad behavior, but not all. For instance, mental illness was believed to be the reason a man shoved a woman in front of a train at Times Square last January.


Some of the guidelines regarding the pandemic are not as rigid as they were at the beginning of COVID-19. Masks have been allowed to come off in some places. The rule about social distancing is no longer enforced. All churches are not open to full capacity as they once were, but many churches have rules for returning to church on a smaller scale. Children have returned to school.

With prayers and positive thinking, the country can run again without fear and stress and hopefully we'll see a reduction in bad behavior.


Why People Are Acting So Weird

Acceptable and Unacceptable Public Behavior

The Price of Incivility

Actor Will Smith Banned From Attending Oscars for 10 years

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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