As a New Yorker, whenever I catch myself pondering the topic of etiquette, it brings to my senses the putrid stench of MTA stations. Don’t get the wrong impression – I love NY’s public transportation. It’s truly an experience like no other. People from all walks of life, backgrounds, and cultures cluster together in rectangular cars, being whisked away from antique stations into the unknown. Where there is diversity, however, there are differences. When the social melting pot is stirred, sometimes the residue at the bottom rises up with its indecencies. Improper, obnoxious mannerisms, lack of consideration for others, having no public awareness, etc are only a few that skim the surface. But if this is something we as a society keep tolerating, these characteristics will only corrupt society in the long run.
To change that, I believe it is crucial for the government to create etiquette laws similar to Singapore’s. Things like spitting, littering, public urinating, smoking in non-designated spots, etc., can land you with hefty fines and even jail time. For example, if you are caught spitting while being in public spaces, you will be punished with a $1,000 fine. In one aspect, it would be a good way to generate revenue for the city, as well as creating a cleaner and safer space for everyone.
Using that money, we can develop programs and initiatives to help those who are in need of support the most. In NYC, the number of homeless people has skyrocketed since the Great Depression. The Coalition For The Homeless did a study and found that “In February 2019, there were 63,615 homeless people, including 15,344 homeless families with 22,717 homeless children sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Families make up three-quarters of the homeless shelter population and the number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping each night in municipal shelters is now 74 percent higher than it was ten years ago. The number of homeless single adults is 150 percent higher than it was ten years ago.”
But even if we decide to not do this on a large scale, we could create a punitive system in schools or private areas (in alignment with the law of course) that follows this idea to teach people the things they failed to learn when they were kids. In other words, it is beneficial for society as a whole, as it builds character in people and teaches them respect, self-control, social awareness, etc.
It would also be helpful to implement other things that would help catalyze a snowball effect on this growth. Rewinding back to the MTA example, how would your commute be when you take the train/bus and people are more respectful of each other and their environment? The seat and floor you use are clean. There are no loud music or people screaming “IT’S SHOWTIME” on your train. There will be no more smell or sight of urine or feces all over. Just think, how would your life be changed if these rules were implemented?