Oh where, oh where have the good manners gone?
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 23:10
The woman yelling into her Bluetooth headset in the grocery store. The man barreling through the door with his phone pressed to one ear and his briefcase in the other. The guy who walks through the door that you held open for him passes you without so much as a “Thanks.” Or how about the teenage girl too preoccupied with texting on her phone to care that she’s just walked head-on into you and can’t be bothered to utter a simple “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” before returning to her phone.
Everyone has encountered at least someone committing one of the above offenses at least once. If you get irritated whenever you run into someone who is obviously lacking manners, you’re not alone.
According to a poll conducted by the public policy research group Public Agenda, nearly eight in 10 Americans feel that this lack of respect and courtesy is a serious national problem. Six in 10 people also believe that the problem is constantly getting worse.
Let’s take a trip back to the 1950s. Think Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy. Everyone had manners. People said “please” and “thank you,” held open doors for others and were just all-around polite and courteous. Children and young people of the time were no exception either. They were raised to be kind, to respect their elders and others in general. They were taught to not be selfish or rude. People followed the Golden Rule and stuck to “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Fast-forward about 60 years. Manners are seriously lacking from this generation. Our generation. A simple trip around Duquesne’s campus is more than enough of an example. On any given day you may find yourself subject to doors slammed in your face and bruised toes and shoulders from bumping into people who can’t put their phones down and watch where they’re walking, among other things.
Maybe it’s just me, but I was raised to believe that manners are important. I was taught to be polite, say please and thank you, and respect other people, especially my elders or those in authority.
Most of our generation is characterized by being rude and demanding. We feel that we, collectively, are entitled to the best the world has to offer, regardless of whether or not we actually deserve it. We should go to the best school, have the best and newest clothes, accessories and gadgets and get the best jobs and highest praise right out of the gate.
The poll suggested that the evolution of technology is the reason behind the decline in manners among many Americans. Technology has enabled us to have everything we want instantly. News, emails, social media updates – we can have them wherever we are and whenever we want them. We are so connected to technology that we can’t be bothered to remove ourselves from it long enough to be polite.
It can’t be just that technology has demolished our manners. Our generation has grown up hearing that we can do anything, be anything and have the best of everything. Our parents, grandparents, loved ones and society has been preaching this to us our whole lives.
We think we’re better than anyone else, that we deserve the best of everything, even if we’ve done nothing to deserve it. Technology certainly hasn’t helped our I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now attitude, but it can’t be the only thing.
It isn’t that difficult to be polite and kind to others. It certainly won’t take any time away from updating your Facebook status, tweeting about your day or catching up on the latest gossip. I can guarantee that it won’t make your day any worse either.
Those magic words that we learned as children should have made their way into our teenage and adult lives. It’s easy to say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “I’m sorry” and “you’re welcome.” Manners are important. They can make someone feel valued simply by uttering one of those magic words. It can turn their day completely around.
So the next time you’re completely plugged into your phone and in a rush to wherever you need to be, don’t forget to mind your manners and be polite to those around you. You could easily make their day and paying it forward never hurt anyone.
Robyn Rudish-Laning is a graduate creative media practices student and can be reached at email@example.com.