Where have our manners gone? In the good ole’ days we showed respect, restraint, and responsibility for our actions. Are we now a ruder society? Rudeness, aka effrontery, is a display of disrespect by not complying with the social norms or etiquette of our culture. These norms have been established as the essential boundaries of normally accepted behavior. But are we delusional? Do we as a society live within these ‘manner’ boundaries? Hardly! It’s very obvious that civility is coming unraveled at the seams. People are rude, impatient and inconsiderate.
Today, rude behavior is becoming the norm. We totally accept and tolerate bullying, back-stabbing, and bickering as part of everyday life, instead of the hostile actions they truly are. People don’t think twice about voicing their opinion even if it’s vulgar, uncivil, and deliberately disrespectful.
People are immensely selfish! The other week, a family member was at the movie theater and some jerk was talking on his cellphone. He had no compunction about interrupting the show. We didn’t pay ten dollars to listen to someone’s crude phone conversation. We use to be able to watch a theater movie with minimal distractions, but sadly that’s changed. People are so consumed with their own needs, they don’t care if they infringe or trample on the rest of us respectful people. Turn your cell phone off before you enter the theater… it’s rude and you lack social grace and etiquette! I know what you’re thinking, put a cork in it!
The fact of the matter is that North America has been more mannerly in the past than it is now. Until the 1960’s, children were taught good manners in school. Adults defined themselves a ladies or gentlemen based on how well they practiced good etiquette and how considerate they were to their fellow human beings. Hey my parents grew up in that era and they didn’t know anything about etiquette, and they survived. Although they went to the ballet once but forgot the sandwiches.
So how did we get here? Some say the lack of civility is caused by our fast-paced society. Others suggest that new technology is making it easier to be rude. But, it’s also because we’re living more isolated lives. We’re getting more wrapped up in ourselves. And that is bad for our society. We must have a common language of behavior that restrains people from acting out their impulses. This standard is what should prevent our communal lives from being abrasive, unpleasant, and even explosive.
We may have strayed far from common decency, but, it’s not a complicated thing to undo. A civil society is one in which people are concerned for their fellow man. Manners and etiquette are a conscious way of exercising this concern. We need to go back to the basics, like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ We need to open doors for strangers. We need to give some loose change to our struggling fellow humans. We need to listen and not interrupt. We need to respect other people’s choices and beliefs. We need to learn boundaries. We need to be nice. We need to know that minding our manners does matter.