I have this theory: manners really do not mean that much to people anymore. Well, actually, maybe it is not that they do not mean much, but rather that we just do not make it a necessity to have manners.
To test my theory, I decided to try holding the door for everyone in a few of my classes and count how many people thanked me. Personally, I think a simple “thank you” is one of the kindest gestures, but apparently for others, this is not the case. For my calculus class of 32 students, I received only fo
ur “thank yous”. Out of 40 students in my AP English class, I got a mere 11.
But manners go beyond simple “thank yous” and “you’re welcomes.” For example, the use of cuss words. I do not understand why, when I go to a restaurant with families all around me, I still hear curse words loud and clear for all to hear. And not only restaurants, but any public area where families and young children are around.
I am not saying cursing should be forbidden completely, but people should be more cautious when in public. It is common courtesy to consider those around us, and common courtesy seems to be something we have definitely forgotten.
On the subject of common courtesy, let us discuss the rudeness of people with cell phones and iPods. I simply cannot fathom why it is considered perfectly fine to text or have your headphones in your ears while having a conversation with someone. I must admit, I am guilty of this, and it is definitely not something I am proud of. Our society has gotten so used to not considering others, we do not even realize our own rude behavior.
The blame for our generation’s tendency to be a bit more inconsiderate than expected can be partially blamed on the way we were brought up.
In the past, families were usually closer to their neighbors and looked to strangers for kindness, doing things such as having the neighbors baby-sit the children, which is not as common nowadays. In fact, many today do not even know who their neighbors are.
People have become so detached and alienated from others, and thus our attitudes towards each other have grown worse and worse over the years. This eventually causes us to become more accustomed to being rude and not having manners, which is quite an unfortunate consequence.
Some will say that there are more important things to worry about than saying “thank you” when someone holds the door for you. Due to the incredible amount of ridiculousness in this response, I must stop and laugh for a second.
Really? Because we are all so preoccupied with ending world hunger, we should just throw being polite out the window completely, right?
Maybe it can be seen as a bit naïve and childish to be bothered by such a small thing as common courtesy, but perhaps that is the problem. Our society has put having manners so low on their priority list that it almost does not even matter anymore.
We compliment ourselves daily on what clever individuals we are—a society based on multi-tasking, yet we cannot even be thoughtful enough to have some kindness and courtesy towards others.
Manners should be a given, not something people have to hope for.
So the next time someone holds the door for you as you leave class, please take one second to say thank you, smile, and walk away. It will not hurt, I promise.