What happened to these polite things that nobody does anymore? 234



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The baby boomer generation, perhaps more than any other, has seen 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 a 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 10 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 actually showing thanks is long gone.


Actual RSVPs

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 definitely doesn’t happen any more!


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 like a badge of honour and actually use them to distinguish between company they’d like to keep and 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.


Tell us, what manners and polite things would you like to see come back again? What are your memories of growing up and being taught the “polite” way of doing things? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I would like for “The Men to take Extra Care of their Women in Todays society” Although Our Awesome Son at the age of 31 Opens the Car Door to His Beautiful Wife! 🙂 So I know that I have raised Our 5 Children Properly,So I am “Proud of Myself Today” 🙂 Our other Son is Polite too & Our 3 Beautiful Daughters do Different things in a Polite Manner Too! So I am “Very Proud of them All” 🙂

  2. I’m sure when William and Kate left hospital, he didn’t open the car door for Kate. Admittedly he was organising their little baby into her capsule, but then he jumped straight into the drivers seat

  3. Manners survived over time because they are respectful. Another modern polite thing to do is for everyone to put their phones on silent and leave them on the entrance table.

    1 REPLY
    • Or leave their phone in their bag! I always have mine on SILENT, when driving, at the pictures, etc. If I’m shopping and need to check a price, size or something from family, for instance, I ask the shopkeeper if it’s permissible to use my phone in their store. I NEVER have such a phone conversation in front of other customers.

  4. All the above happened at my parent’s house built in 1950. Forward to 1976. The kitchen is 1/3 the size and the dining room is a small area between the kitchen and the lounge room. My lounge room is 1/3 the size. My daughter’s bedroom is 1/2 the size mine was and my son’s bedroom is 1/3 the size of mine. Mum stayed home. I rushed out the door to work to help pay for this (by comparison) miniature house. There simply isn’t the elbow-room or the time to live the sedate life of 1950.

  5. That’s interesting to compare!our life wasn’t so sedate though!shopping was put on tab,carried home(no car)if groceries were too heavy they were brought to the house by a horse drawn cart driven by the delivery man.shops were a few kilometre away we walked.after school wood was cut and caried to the house for the old fuel stove.chips were cut for the water heater in the bathroom.fresh vegetables picked from garden eggs gathered,lawns mowed not a lot of time for being idle.our hair was washed with ‘sunlight soap’ the conditioner was a beaten raw egg!hows that?

  6. Asking to leave the table when finished eating as a child
    Asking father IF I could go out with my boyfriend ( even up to just before my marriage)

  7. Bring back all good manners. I will say that when I take my great grandchildren shopping etc they always say thank you.

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