The baby boomer generation, perhaps more than any other, has seen an incredible change in society and the way we live our lives. Some changes have been fantastic, technology, for example, has revolutionised the way we live! But others haven’t been quite so positive. One of the sad changes is the demise of basic manners and the art of “being polite”.
So what happened to our manners? As our lives have gotten busier, we’ve declared ourselves in too much of a rush to take a few seconds or minutes out to do something kind. Perhaps it’s that technology has in fact become our main mode of communication and the human interaction – which manners are a large part of – has become redundant and therefore so have our manners.
Or perhaps it comes down to education and society as a whole; we’re focussed on casual lifestyles with less formal occasions. We’re focused on teaching our children how to be smart and intelligent but not the great pillars of society as we once focussed on with equal importance.
Whatever the reason is, I believe it’s quite sad. So today let’s reflect on a well-mannered time – these are ten things that I wish people still did regularly today. Read through the list of polite actions that we once treasured and tell us, which would you like to see come back again?
Writing and sending “thank you” notes
There was something so special about receiving and sending thank you notes. It was a way of showing someone that you truly do appreciate what they’ve done for you and with just a few moments for each letter, it was a few moments out of your day that contributed to someone else’s happiness. Saying “thank you” is still around but showing thanks is long gone.
Remember when people gave actual RSVP’s about their attendance to events and functions and hosts didn’t have to assume, follow up or cater for a larger number, just in case!
Baking for people
When a friend moved house, when they were sick, when they were looking after other people or when they simply had something to celebrate, we once would cook a meal, some muffins or a cake and deliver them in person. It was a way of showing that we cared and was a simple, cost effective way of simply doing something nice for someone else.
Holding the door open
No matter where you were, if you were walking through a door, the person in front of you would hold it open or at least hand it over to you, so there were no doors slammed in faces. These days, people seem to be on a mission to get to places quickly and very rarely do this.
Taking your hat off indoors
It was the polite thing to do – you wore hats outside, for sun protection! And if you were inside, unless you were at a wedding or a funeral, the hats were always taken off and placed down. We’re not sure why or where this tradition went, but it doesn’t happen anymore!
Men opening car doors
Men are not taught to look after women as they once did and this means that they don’t often jump ahead to open a car door for someone. Some of this coincides with the fact that women began to object to this behaviour as part of the feminist stance that women are equal to men and deserve no special treatment. Regardless, it was a polite thing to do and respected women as ladies.
Keeping the elbows off the table
The entire suite of manners at the dinner table that we once saw every day has diminished to very little. It is rare to walk into a restaurant and see a family use their cutlery correctly, eat their food with proper etiquette and keep their elbows off the table. My father would always say, “no uncooked joints on the table!” and that seems to be a lesson somewhat lost.
Keeping money and politics out of conversations
These were two topics off limits however now some wear their opinions and financial position as a badge of honour and use them to distinguish between the company they’d like to keep and the company they aren’t fond of.
Standing up when people enter the room
This was a favourite of mine; it was always a pleasant way of greeting people, and it was a sign of respect, ultimately the thing we’ve lost most. Sadly, very few people are taught to do this now, and it’s become a thing of the past.