Why doesn’t anyone do these polite things any more? 243



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The baby boomer generation have seen incredible change in society and the way we live our lives. Some changes have been for the better: 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, most of us can admit it is quite sad. So today let’s reflect on a well-mannered time – these are 10 things that we wish we 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. Respect for others especially the elderly is a start.

    1 REPLY
    • Since I’ve been “elderly” (I’m 72) I haven’t encountered any disrespect. In fact, quite the opposite. It seems people have gone out of their way to be nice.

  2. Many baby Boomers still do those thing but many of us slacked off way to much with our children and they have passed that relaxed attitude and lack of manners onto their children.

  3. we had to ask to leave the table and my Dad came to the table with a strap he lay over his knees and if we did anything wrong he lashed out with the strap no warnings given as a result we were well behaved at the table

    9 REPLY
    • Aww that’s sad Linda, My Dad was strict but not cruel even when he lashed out with the strap it wasn”t hard but we got the message

    • Linda Carley
      Some things in our childhood weren’t as great as we like to think they were. Child abuse was an accepted part of life. My dad never hit us but my mother could be very cruel when she choose to.

    • Tell me about it Ruth, my Mum was good at clipping over the ears, sometimes wonder if that’s where I got my deaf ear from that I’ve had since my 20s

    • If you have to hit a child with an object to make a point, I think your powers of communication need a brush up. Not having a shot at your dad and I know how things were done (my father was not far from this style) but lord oh lord let’s never accept this for future generations.

    • I was never hit as a child and I never hit my son, there are other ways to reprimand without using violence and my son is very polite. I never got a school report that did not have on the bottom that he was a polite child

  4. Yes to all the above! Add to that not starting your meal till everyone has been served, and remaining at table until the last person finishes.

  5. Some things I think are gone forever, for instance many modern families don’t seem to eat at the table anymore and many young people don’t cook at all today, they buy take away and pre prepared meals, let alone bake for others. Politics has come into fashion, at least online. Now everyone is entitled to have their say, unlike when we were young

  6. a lot of kids have no respect these days and certainly no manners we grew up having manners and respect if we didnt we got the strap and sent to our rooms with no tea . so we learnt and it certainly didnt hurt us in anyway just taught us thanks to my parents for that oh and yes the strap didnt hurt that much we got that at school to .

  7. We still do most of those, thank you by email or text, RSVP the same way. My husband opens the door for me, and I hold the door for others. Just common courtesy really.

    1 REPLY
  8. If your parents taught you wright you should not have bad manners,, you should never lose it, but we all pick up bad manners through life,,

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