Europeans and Americans seem to have varying levels of decorum, in France if we do not know someone we address them as vous, not tu. We do not begin conversations with direct personal inquiries and we do not discuss personal issues with people whom we do not know well. I believe it has become a bit more open since m childhood in the 70's, but the standards are still different in the US, where we begin conversations with name, occupation and life history in many cases. In classes for Salespeople I have taught around the country we always tell salespeople to avoid discussion about politics and religion with people as there is always someone you are likely to offend in any group.
The younger people everywhere are the less decorum they seem to have when it comes to sensitive issues. The idea of polite conversation has its roots in the era when people were prone to violence when offence was given. It allowed, and still does, people to exchange ideas and discuss issues in a calmer environment.
Today people have far fewer inhibitions and wish to take things farther than their elders merely for the purpose of appearing smarter and more daring. It is often an attention getting device when one is rude or aggravating. As we have become a more fast paced society these trends in our society have increased in speed.
Here on A.Net there is the additional anonymity which allows some to feel that they are entitled to say the most obnoxious and abominable things, that would probably incite violence if uttered directly to someone in person. This tendency typically reduces the exchanges to the third stage of sex during marriage (where the two people sit in separate rooms yelling screw you at each other). The actual exchanges of ideas here do occasionally rise above this, and that makes this forum worthwhile. Just like polite conversation can allow a discussion to reach some kind of mutual understanding which makes that process fulfilling.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?