Hook We all know that feeling, that sight, that sound of someone chewing with their mouths open. That uncomfortable shiver we feel. That indeterminable mass inside someone’s mouth. That despicable smacking sound. We’ve all probably had to politely, or not so politely, tell someone to stop chewing with their mouths open. Well, what if they are doing it unknowingly? What if they’re not? IntroWe, as a society, are guilty of open mouth chewing. We don’t care about the consequences of our actions. And we need to start caring. Because the purposeful obliviousness, avoidance and procrastination we show when metaphorically chewing with our mouths open creates large scale problems. Sandra Morisset, a professional etiquette trainer, says that social etiquette is “all about your self awareness and treating others with respect.” Today, we’re all going to become more aware and open-minded to fix society’s ills. Preview To really understand this issue, we must take a moment to close our mouth and think about why our actions are such a problem, chew thoughtfully on the causes, and finally digest the solutions to become more thoughtful, considerate people. Problem 1Chewing with our mouths open is gross, and we all know it. Well, we all know it unless we’re the one chewing with our mouth openOne person’s obliviousness in chewing ruins meals for other people. Who hasn’t let a plastic bag get away in a strong wind? It happens to everyone. But that one simple act of littering plastic has resulted in the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch. This patch of literal garbage is “twice the size of Texas” and “up to 9 feet deep.” An observational study done by Keep America Beautiful in 2009 found that 81% of observed littering acts were intentional. People who intentionally litter do so because the result of it doesn’t actually affect us: the problem is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It’s just like chewing with your mouth open, someone else gets to suffer, but as long as it’s not you, it doesn’t matter. Problem 2 The power one shows while chewing rudely has a negative influence. It shows that we are above the social etiquette standards that everyone should follow. We don’t care about the greater good, but we do care about greater enjoyment. We don’t need that kind of power imbalance inducing attitude. Powerful men from Louis C.K. to Roy Moore have been accused of assaulting women. One in five women will be raped at some point in their lives. One in five. The normalization of rape is not to be tolerated, but people continuously turn a blind eye towards other people’s rights. When we show such disrespect for other people and the greater good while we chew openly, we are exhibiting a power dynamic that is all too familiar to women. Problem 3 Although annoying meals can end, the longer we procrastinate with dealing with problems on a larger level, they compound and get worse. In the 1980s, an international meeting of scientists warned that the world should take active steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions. By 2018, we face mounting problems of severe weather storms worth 200 billion dollars in damage. When we sit across from someone and they chew with their mouth open, we tend to let it slide time after time with a ‘oh, i’ll just remind them next time’ a behavior that leads to the creation of bad habits from littering carbon dioxide to smoking tobacco. 70% of smokers say they would like to quit in a study done by News in Health.gov. Every time they smoked a cigarette, they avoided quitting, it compounded into a cycle they can’t break from but regret.Transition to Causes I asked the person next to me in the cafeteria why they were chewing with their mouth open, and they asked me why I was yelling. Luckily I was able to find some other causes for this mouth chewing epidemic. Cause 1 First, we’re allowed to remain oblivious because there aren’t any direct, immediate consequences for our behavior. The cause of political apathy is that we have other more ‘important’ things to worry about like disappearing jobs and increasing student debt loads according to Huffington Post in 2014. We also have adopted a distrust for our voting system and our elected officials, perhaps because they’re chewing with their mouths open. A 2017 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 18% of Americans trust the government and 55% say that they are frustrated with federal government. Politicians engage in a behavior that wasn’t voted for but still get reelected at enormous rates. When this happens repeatedly, we start losing the trust that the government truly represents what we believe in; we stop caring. Cause 2 The second cause of our nation’s thoughtlessness epidemic is the nature of power itself. A study done by two UC Berkeley professors in 2015 show that power does have the ability to corrupt people. They showed that people who were given more power over their peers during an experiment exhibited actions like grabbing the last cookie and eating the cookie in a messy way. According to Dacher Kelter, the researcher in the study, “when you feel powerful, you kind of lose touch with other people. You stop attending carefully to what other people think.”Powerful people stop being aware of constraints and start to experience a sense of freedom from punishment; they start feeling entitled to do unethical actions in some cases literally chewing with their mouths open. Cause 3And finally, why do we procrastinate when dealing with our many issues? Margaret Heffernan, a businesswoman and author, says that we choose to unsee in situations where “we could know, and should know, but don’t know because it makes us feel better not to know.” It makes us feel better that we don’t have to face the long term consequences of offending someone by calling them out on their rude behavior. Just like binge watching netflix the night before a test; we focus on the enjoyment it gives in the present, and leave out the future of a bad test grade. Transition to Solutions Even though chewing with our mouths open seems dire, there are ways we can solve these issues. Solution 1 We first need to become more self aware. Start caring about the results of our actions. In order to solve all of society’s ills, I consulted the ultimate source: a WikiHow post about how to stop chewing with our mouths open. That post suggests eating in front of a mirror. Reflecting on your actions forces you to think about what you have done and how you can improve. On a larger scale, we need to learn more about the effects of our actions. One example of progress comes from John Kellett in Baltimore. He saw litter dominating his beloved harbor, so he designed and implemented a contraption that resides in the harbor collecting trash called Mr. Trash Wheel. Since 2014, it has collected over one million pounds of trash, allowing the Baltimore Harbor today to be cleaner and friendlier for both tourists and the environment. Anyone can make a difference by becoming aware and taking action. Solution 2 Another priceless WikiHow-based solution tells us to ask someone else to help monitor you while you eat. Basically, we need to speak truth to power. Mouth chewers should share their vulnerability with someone, showing that you aren’t the power hogging person everyone thought you were. And if people aren’t asking for advice, it’s time that we tell them. So, for the people watching the open mouth eaters, take advantage of your voice, take advantage of your social media and speak out. Women around the world, across industries, have come out recently in the #MeTOO movement to share their story, to raise awareness of unequal treatment under countless power-corrupted individuals. If people don’t ask for the feedback, it’s time that we give it to them anyway.Solution 3 And finally the geniuses at WikiHow finally solved procrastination for us all: print out a reminder “prior to eating your meals.” So, remind yourself that you have a deadline to reach, that you have to think long term. Everyone needs to be reminded of global warming.We have that power to remind our lawmakers that the government is truly for the people. Yes, you, the very teenager sitting in this room. We can speak out. Form a movement. Write letters. Phone bank. In 2013, a girl confronted a Congressman about his viewpoints on climate change in a Town Hall meeting. In 2017, Children’s March on Washington gave voice to children and change; they organize rallies from drugs to civil rights. We can’t be the people who pretend problems don’t exist. We have that power to change policy makers.Conclusion Almost everyone can agree that chewing with our mouths open is not optimal behavior. The big picture problems created by this action can be solved by making ourselves more aware, and more on top our game. With these solutions, we can finally avoid hearing that despicable smacking sound. Seeing that indeterminable mass inside someone’s mouth. Feeling that uncomfortable shiver. Thank you.