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Have we forgotten our manners?

Wendy Jessen

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POSTED: July 21, 2014 11:40 a.m.
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It used to be commonplace for people to observe certain manners. Respect your elders. Say "please" and "thank you." Say "excuse me." While these still apply today, there are some that seem to have been forgotten or that need some adjusting for today's world.
The Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated.
This rule alone would make life a lot better. Just as we teach kids not to hit each other and explain how they would not like to be hit, this applies to many other situations.
1. Bullying
No one likes being picked on, singled out, hurt physically or emotionally or otherwise made fun of so why do it to anyone else? Teach your children to be kind to everyone even, and especially, those who are outside of their social circles.
2. Dishonesty
Why tell a lie that you'll have to remember and keep track of when telling the truth clears your conscience, earns respect and frees you from guilt? Sometimes it is more difficult to tell the truth, but what happens when the truth is ultimately uncovered? Lying is one of my biggest pet peeves and those who lie to me lose my respect and trust. Who likes to be lied to? Honesty really is the best policy.
3. Rudeness
It's understandable that everyone has a bad day from time to time, yet that is no excuse to be rude to someone else. Bad days do not give you permission to be unkind. You don't like it when someone is mean or rude to you, so don't do it to someone else. Think before you speak. Words cannot be taken back once spoken. Always choose kindness. You will never regret being too kind.
Basically, before you do something, decide whether you would like it done to you. Go one step further and consider the feelings of the other person and how they might respond. Use the Golden Rule in daily life and in your family.
"If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."
Remember Disney's "Bambi?" Thumper and his mother are right. This type of respect is often forgotten especially with the increase of non-face-to-face communication. It's easier to "say" something mean to people, even to complete strangers, if you're typing through a device or on the computer or sending vile text messages. Would you like someone to say those mean things to you in person or electronically?
Typed words can convey different meanings depending on who is reading it. Physical and verbal cues are lost in the written word. Maybe the original intent of a Facebook post, news article or text message was meant in sarcasm or as a joke, but the receiver of the message thought it was mean or judgmental. This then spawns a war of words all over a simple misunderstanding.
Social media has changed people. People think less and type more. Insulting complete strangers, calling names and making invalidated accusations are common in these social arenas. Cyberbullying is also prevalent and the results are heartbreaking. In these situations, it is usually better to just zip your lips and quiet the keyboard than to say something hurtful. Why spread negativity and engage in debate over nothing? Rarely does anything good come of it. It's doubtful that many minds get by a Facebook debate or some ruthless comment on an online article or other forum.
Don't interrupt, or rather, be interrupted by technology.
Imagine having a conversation with someone who isn't really listening because they keep answering text messages or checking notifications from social media sites. Sometimes responding to your phone is OK like for an emergency or to answer a call or text from a child or babysitter. But, that is an exception. When you are with people, be present with them. Notifications and text messages can wait until you are done engaging face-to-face with another human being. Ignoring those you love because of electronic interruptions can damage relationships. Give undivided attention to the people around you. Be respectful.
Manners need to be remembered even as social interactions change. Within an instant, text messages can be sent to numerous people, Facebook posts or tweets can be read and social media wars can be started. Words and interactions with others are powerful for good or bad. Speak, write and act in kindness. Spread happiness instead of negativity. Be careful with each other's feelings - friend or foe, stranger or acquaintance.

 

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