We have lost our manners

November 14, 2011

I heard that on the radio the other morning, and I could not agree more. We seriously have lost our manners. “Please.” “Thank you.” “May I?” “Excuse me.” (without being immediately followed by “excuse you” from the other party) Opening and/or holding the door for someone. You know, simple common courtesies that have unfortunately become less-than-common.


My sisters and I were raised to use good manners. You say “please” and “thank you”. You address adults by “Mr.” and “Mrs.” You say “excuse me” after you burp or fart. That is, after we were glared at for daring to let out said burp or fart within earshot of others in the first place. You do not chew with your mouth open or talk with your mouth full. You do not rest your elbows on the table while you eat. You write thank you notes after receiving gifts. You look people in the eye when being spoken to. You do NOT talk back, especially in public. You do not lie. And you are overall generally obedient to your parents.


And I’m sure this will garner many groans and eye rolls, but for the most part we complied. We were, I think, pretty well-behaved children, and have grown into well-mannered adults. I’m sure my mom can provide plenty of instances to the contrary, but I’m speaking on the whole here. Mom.


I’ve noticed so often, though, that kids these days are just shitty. They’re rude, they’re disobedient, they’re immature (yes, even kids can have a certain level of maturity for their age), they’re violent, they’re mean, they’re beyond disrespectful, and they’re just plain jerks.


How has this happened? Have manners really become so passé that parents can’t possibly be troubled to instill them in their children? Have we become so technologically advanced, absorbed, and jaded that it’s ridiculous to think we would bother to teach children such basic organic processes as good manners? Just leave it up to the computer or cell phone to do that for us? Is it really that hard? Nope. I don’t think so.


And when did this happen? When did it become so taxing to insert an extra word or 2 into your sentences here or there? When did it become uncool to be polite? When did we stop smiling at people as we pass? And god forbid anyone actually nods hello. No! Grumble, grumble, shuffle past. What the? Where are we living?


Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who orders by saying, “May I please have…?”; or says “thank you” to a compliment or good deed; or says “you’re welcome” to another’s “thank you”; or holds the door for someone behind me or someone who needs assistance; or hands someone something they dropped instead of walking by pretending not to see; or actually does try to look people in the eye as I walk by and say “hello”, or maybe just “hey”, but still, it’s better than staring blankly past them like they don’t exist? Am I crazy for doing all these things? I guess it doesn’t really matter if I am, for I’ll still do them. I was taught it’s just what you do. It’s not some big, unusual occurrence, not something that needs to be rewarded with a gold star each day. You just do it.


Anyone want to join me on a crusade to re-manner the world? Ok, maybe not the whole world, but at least re-manner our own little corners of it? I fully intend on raising D to use good manners. Nothing would crush me more than to see her growing into one of the foul-mouthed, ill-mannered, bad-tempered little hoodlums I see running around, pissing me off. Because really, that’s not the sign of a truly bad kid. I don’t think kids themselves are inherently rotten. That’s the sign of an extremely poor parenting job.


Thank you.



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