Missing Manners

Generally speaking, I try to mind my own business.  I don’t usually believe it’s my place to tell other people what to think or how to live their lives, and I’m not the sort of person who honestly believes that the world would be a better place if only everyone else behaved just like me.  (I’m way too acquainted with my many faults to believe that one.)  I don’t put bumper stickers on my car or signs in my yard, and I have never once written a letter to the editor.  “Live and let live” has always been my motto (within reason, of course.)

But either I’m becoming less tolerant in my old age or my inner-bitch is beginning to awaken, because lately I’ve found myself becoming more and more irritated by some of the actions of the people around me.  For instance, this morning I was waiting in the check-out line of a bookstore when the woman behind me decided to call someone on her cell phone.  I would rather not have heard the intimate details of her breakup with her boyfriend, but I did.  And she was speaking so loudly that everyone else in line heard it too.  The bottom line is that unless someone is giving out their credit card information (in which case I need them to speak slowly and enunciate clearly so I can write it down), I don’t want to hear their phone conversations when I’m in a public place.

I know I’m hopelessly old fashioned and not a big believer in multi-tasking, but I still believe that when a person is driving a car, that is all they should actually be doing:  driving the car.  They should not be texting, putting on eye-liner, eating their dinner, or stirring their coffee.  Yes, all of those things can be important, but they aren’t important enough to risk someone’s life in a car accident.  They just aren’t.

And at the risk of stating the obvious, I firmly believe that personal business should actually be kept personal.  I don’t believe that social media is the appropriate setting for family conflicts, neighborhood feuds, failing marriages, or imploding friendships.  We all tend to say (or write) things that we shouldn’t in those situations, so why make it worse by doing so in front of the whole world?  These days, privacy seems to be little more than a quaint idea, but I truly believe that not every single detail of our lives needs to be shared.

I honestly don’t know if good manners are becoming obsolete or if I am simply becoming old and cranky.  My guess is the truth is probably a little of both. But I was raised to believe that being polite and considerate of others made life easier and more enjoyable for everybody, and I think that’s just as true today as it was when I was young.  Some things never go out of style…..

110 thoughts on “Missing Manners

  1. I agree with you. The art of politeness and civility seem to be lost, especially on some of the younger generations. But that is not to say all are not excused. Getting a cup of coffee used to be the time for exchanging morning pleasantries but now, god forbid, we interrupt someone’s 6:30 am text time. But myself? I’m always available for a brief chat. I get it from my mother.

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    • I know! A person who is actually with us should always take priority over texting someone, but that simply isn’t the case any more. I’m glad you are willing to chat with real people…your mother taught you well. And thanks for the comment!

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  2. I’m going with, “…if I am simply becoming old and cranky.” I should know. I’m old and cranky and the things you mention drive me crazy, too. 😉

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  3. Your post came in my email just hours after I gave the draft of my book, which is about how I reacted with panicky, ridiculous behavior when confronted with the reality of my husband’s terminal cancer, to my brothers to read. Sunday I’m giving it to my two best friend-former-work-colleagues for their comments. Generally, I’m with you on the “keep-the-private-stuff-private” side, but in this case, the story seems to have helped me heal in the telling. After reading your very sensible opinions above, though, I’ve come down with a kind of “writer’s fright.” What have I done? While my brothers will likely observe the Thumper rule (“If you can’t say somethin’ nice…”), I’m sure my work friends will be brutally honest: rest assured, if they think the book is cringeworthy and should never see the light of day, they’ll say so.
    I can take it. I hope.

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    • Oh, please don’t think I’m talking about writing about “private” stuff that needs to be said. Honestly, all great writing comes from personal feelings, and usually personal pain. That’s certainly okay. We all get to decide what we’re comfortable sharing, and what we’re not. I meant the people who post hurtful stuff about friends and relatives they happen to be feuding with on social media, not about people writing honestly about serious issues they are dealing with. That kind of honesty actually helps other people who are going through the same thing.
      And don’t worry about writer’s fright…we all get it! But that just means your writing is honest and real, which is a good thing.

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  4. “The bottom line is that unless someone is giving out their credit card information (in which case I need them to speak slowly and enunciate clearly so I can write it down), I don’t want to hear their phone conversations when I’m in a public place.” – this made me laugh so hard!! The world we live in……… I wish I could say I have not done so many of these things…. (minus the boyfriend breakup!) LOL!!!

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    • No worries, Jodi, we’ve all done it from time to time. I write my posts as much for me as for anyone else, trust me on that! And….I can’t imagine you every being mean or inconsiderate to anyone…ever!

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  5. If you are old and cranky, I am too (and I think we are in good, if not cranky, company). I’m probably becoming less tolerant but I’m also pretty sure people are becoming more inconsiderate too. The only difference between me and you is that I probably would have enjoyed listening to the woman’s wholly inappropriate conversation… just to help my time in line go faster (kind-of like glancing at the wacky National Enquirer headlines in the grocery store lines). 🙂

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    • Oh, I read those too! And believe me, there are times when I would have enjoyed it. Today, I just found it annoying, and kept thinking, “Seriously? You’re in the middle of a line of strangers at Barnes and Noble and having such a private discussion?” And what I didn’t include in the post (I try to keep them short) was that she was also talking about calling the city of Chicago to find out how many outstanding traffic tickets she had before she went there. Apparently, there is a certain number you’re allowed before they put out a warrant for your arrest, and she wasn’t sure if she’d hit the limit or not…. You can’t make this stuff up!

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  6. I’m far from old fashioned, I’m only 30 as well but I agree with you 100
    Drama has no place on Facebook and people should NOT have personal conversations on the phone in public (I have actually heard about strangers’ sex lives before)
    I don’t care if you’re behind me in line on your phone- it’s none of my business BUT I also don’t want to know how many men you had last night… Those are best left to text or in a private location.

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    • Exactly! Private stuff is called private for a reason, and those of us who don’t know a person would rather not hear about it. I’m glad it’s not just us “old fogies” who feel this way. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. I am not a cranky old man and if I am then not very often, but I agree with you 100%, Ann. There is a time to speak out and there is a time to remain silent. Unfortunately, many people, especially those addicted to the social media, don’t know the difference. Having written on my blog highly personal stuff, I cringed a little when I found myself guilty of having shared some of my most intimate thoughts and feelings. I read all your responses to the comments above, and I must say I don’t feel bad any more, because I now understand completely the intent and appeal for greater understanding for each other in your well-written post, Ann.

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    • I’m glad the difference was clear, Peter! We all write personal stuff when it has to do with the point we are making…good writing has to be honest and is often personal. (Just read any good memoir, and you’ll see the same level of honesty and openness that you show in your blog.) But that’s hugely different that making a very personal phone call in a public place, I think! And also very different from conducting a personal argument on social media. Keep writing your blog, Peter…your story is a good one and deserves to be shared.

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    • I know! And I can’t help but wonder what the kids are going to think about it once they grow up. It’s going to be interesting to see if they are resentful for the lack of privacy or if it never occurs to them that it’s a bit inappropriate.

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  8. Yep. Absolutely you hit the nail on the head! Sparky and I went grocery shopping on Saturday (very busy) and the woman parked next to us was loading her groceries at the same time we were. I said excuse me and passed her to get into the car. She gave me a very mean look. As I was getting in, she dropped some coins and I commented ” Your dime is over here”. If looks could kill I’d have been dead. Anyway, we finished and backed out. As we were backing out she was cussing us out. And I have no idea what her problem was – possibly just a sour disposition… But that seems to be the norm.

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    • How weird! You were being polite and the response was rude and hostile. Even if you had offended her in some way (and I have no idea how,) her response was completely inappropriate. I’m so sorry you had to go through that!

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  9. Wow- this has been some interesting reading with my morning coffee, Ann. After a very difficult year of dealing with crazy family issues there have been times I want to shout all over the world how stupid everyone is acting, but I don’t for the same reason as I feel social media is not the time or place to vent. Although- there are several of my 50+ friends who think social media is the place to gain support for a personal issue (who is with who sort of situations). I find that is one of many reasons I am no longer a FB member. I want to be ignorant of all that stuff. Be in the moment without all the extra crap. I think I will now go for a walk and scream at the top of my lungs in the wilderness- the old fashioned social therapy method. 😊

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    • Yes, the public airing of dirty laundry and trying to get people “on our side” is one of the reasons people hate social media. I applaud your restraint in not venting on it, even though it sounds as if you have been provoked! I think screaming in the wilderness is a great way to cope! Personally, used to write my feelings and frustrations down, and then tear the paper into tiny pieces and throw it away. It made me feel better, and no one was hurt!

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      • Funny- after your piece yesterday I actually wrote to a family member, tore it up then burned it in hopes that my feelings would also go away and not be in my head anymore. Not sure that approach will work but screaming here in NL is not really a realistic approach. I have to save that for Minnesota and then I might scare the wildlife.😂

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  10. Totally agree with you. I’m a private person myself and have never ever shared or discussed my personal issues online or in public. It’s just not appropriate and to be honest I really do not need to as my family is really close to me & they have always been there for me. However I’m trying to find an excuse for some of us who share their personal issues online.. Like maybe they have nobody to talk to or none of their family members care about them.. So the only hole that they can breathe from is The Internet.. so they throw it all in the ocean hoping that some strangers would notice and give them a *hug* …

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    • That is a very good point! There are lots of topics I could write about in my blog, but I don’t, for the reasons you stated. They would be hurtful to family and close friends. But it does seem that people who vent on social media are looking for validation, and it’s very possible that they don’t have anywhere else to turn. Thanks for pointing that out…it makes me realize I need to be more sympathetic to their situation.

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      • Then again, some could be narcissists. They might not be getting enough attention in their workplace, neighbourhood, or even in their family, but the various social media platforms promise unlimited attention, so there they go.

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  11. Agree, agree, agree! The only difference is that I did once write to the editor. This was in the olden days when it was actually paper. I didn’t realise they would print my address and I got lots of letters (some anonymous) and a couple of hostile phone calls, one in the night. Never did it again! However, it shows that human nature probably hasn’t changed much. Technology just makes it easier and more obvious.

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    • You poor thing! I can’t believe they printed your address. But I agree that human nature is the same, it’s just easier now with technology for people to be rude and obnoxious. Although I do think that as a general rule, good manners aren’t as valued theses days, which is kind of sad. Manners help us keep the worst sides of human nature in check!

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  12. You’re hardly old and cranky Ann! And if you are, you have every right and I’ll join you. I agree with what you said. There’s most definitely a time and a place for everything but it seems it’s become almost common place to air grievances publicly and be rude. And it’s not just the young. I was in a medical waiting room recently and the man next to me had his phone up full blast, watching YouTube videos, feet on the table with absolutely no regard to anyone around him.

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    • I’m with you! It is so rude when people behave in public as though they are in the privacy of their own home, with no regard to the people around them. I’m not quite sure when we became so unaware of our surroundings, but it does seem to be a trend. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who finds it annoying. Thanks, Miriam!

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  13. I agree with you almost completely. Completely in terms of how I react – I’m the same, it drives me round the twist hearing other people’s personal lives. Even before mobile phones there were people standing in line in shops and telling each other about their personal lives and I didn’t like it then, either. I was also brought up to keep things private (though that said, I think my parents overdid it, but they were a generation who’d been brought up by Victorian parents so it wasn’t surprising). That said, I don’t think it’s a case of good manners becoming obsolete – more likely we are, in the face of times changing. Nowadays everything is ‘out there’ and shared. Kids have been born into and brought up in what’s probably best called a ‘sharing generation’. So even though I don’t like it, I’m aware that it probably has some benefits: people are more open, hide less.

    As for the multitasking while driving – I’m with you. (But – didn’t our generation and older listen to music while driving? That’s surely as distracting as some of the other behaviours.)

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    • Thanks for the comment, Val! For me, the difference between listening to the radio and say, texting or putting on makeup when driving, is that listening to the radio allows us to keep our eyes on the road and our hands on the steering wheel, whereas texting, eating and applying makeup don’t. So I have to admit that I do think those are more dangerous behaviors. But I agree with you that we are the ones who are becoming obsolete…how this all plays out on future generations is going to be interesting for sure!

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    • I agree with you. I think we are becoming addicted to the convenient, and also to the “it’s all about me” syndrome that is also encouraged by technology. When we are staring at our cell phones, or wearing earbuds while we’re out for a walk, etc., we are encouraged not to be aware of our surroundings at all. And how can we be considerate of something that we are barely aware of?

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  14. Ann, this post has me smiling ear to ear. I had a similar phone circumstance at Costco yesterday. I was attempting to get up an aisle with my cart & a young girl was standing with her cart in the middle of the said aisle, yakking on her phone. As I tried to maneuver around her(she was not moving), I heard her say, “someone just tried to run me over”. It took every ounce of good manners in my being not to turn around with my best bitch face & say, “REALLY, are you serious?” I chose to keep moving although I may have muttered under my breath that perhaps if she would get off of her phone & move along, the “running her over” might have been avoided….sigh….

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    • Wow, that takes “it’s all about me” to a new level, doesn’t it? Not only does she get to block the aisle, but she gets to complain if anyone tries to get around her. I guess this kind of behavior is on the rise, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing that story, Lynn!

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  15. Hi Ann, you would love it here in Tokyo. People have beautiful manners. No one talks on their mobile phone on the Metro, loud conversations are frowned on, as is eating, so the trains are quiet, peaceful and clean and non smelly. No one eats walking along either. No smoking in street. There are almost no bins yet no rubbish. Almost everyone looks elegant and neat in neutral or nature, aligned with the season, colors* (a few fall* colors but mainly black, white, grey, taupe, etc.) The buildings are grey or neutral, there are lots of trees and greenery. Peaceful, and with a quiet beauty that you have to look to really see (apart from the bright neon night time bits, of course!) *for you!

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    • Is it wrong for me to say that what you describe does sound wonderful to me? I wonder if it is because Tokyo is more heavily populated, so manners are more necessary there? But for whatever reason, I do wish more of us would behave like the people in Tokyo!! Thanks for sharing this.

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      • Not wrong at all Ann! It is lovely here! And so peaceful considering the population numbers, as you say. I am sure India will seem very different in comparison, but there’s such a lot I love there that I hope I will soon adjust again. Everywhere has its own things that suit and things that challenge, but we all eat, sleep, talk, travel, it’s just we do it slightly differently in different countries!

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  16. I’m right up there with you Ann and I think it’s all down to inconsiderate and careless behaviour being normalised by social media. Worse still if you don’t agree and go with the flow then you’re seen as old fashioned. I gave up on fb because of these very reasons, watching people playing one-up-manship on others and displaying their lives as one displays a shop window was not for me! Great topic & discussion, want to press ‘like’ on all the comments!

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  17. It’s true, Ann! There are some things that just seem so obvious: keep personal matters private, be considerate of others. When did common sense become so uncommon, and good manners become a quaint notion? I guess I join you in entering dotage . . . at least we’re in good company.

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  18. Fully agree with you, Ann – as do so many others from the previous responses.
    I do wonder sometimes how we’ve got to the point when it’s normal to air ones dirty laundry on national TV.
    Don’t get me started on manners – few things wind me up as much as discourtesy or lack of consideration, especially when I’m driving when courtesy and consideration can make such a difference to safety too.

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    • Yes, driving is one of the most important areas for consideration! We were driving home the other day and I saw so many people tail-gating, weaving in and out of traffic, etc. that it was just scary. I kept thinking, if you cause an accident that kills someone, are you going to look their family in the eye and say, “I’m sorry, but I was in a hurry?” It’s just insane! Thanks for the comment, Mike!

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  19. This is so true. Hearing the intimate details of another person’s life while you are waiting to check out on line is very uncomfortable. Privacy is very important. I think we grew up believing that only our closest friends and family members really knew the details of our personal lives…that is what makes those details so special. We do not share everything with absolutely everyone. We definitely lose something when we do not take the feelings of strangers in our midst as important. Who knows what kind of problems they have in their own life? And when you are behind the wheel driving a car, that is all you should be paying attention to…driving!

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    • That’s so true! Keeping some aspects of our lives private does make them more special. And randomly sharing everything with strangers doesn’t take into account how it makes the strangers feel. That’s an excellent point. Thank you!

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  20. Well said, Ann. I especially liked the credit card bit. What really aggravates me are those people that can’t mind there own business and continually insist on telling you what to do. Not only is it impolite, but it is also very demeaning. Bad combination.

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    • Yes I’ve known some people like that and you’re right, it’s very rude and demeaning. It’s always best to wait until someone asks for our opinion before we give it, otherwise we’re just being intrusive. Thanks for bringing up that angle, Joe!

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  21. Ann, as I grow older I try to guard against sounding like a relic from the “good ol’ days,” but when it comes to manners I’m afraid I definitely fall in that camp. I grew up in the south and when came to manners, my parents ruled with an iron fist. I hated it at the time, but looking back, it was one of the most important things they instilled in my malleable mind. I’ve lived and traveled all over the world, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that no matter where I am, common courtesy, respect, and politeness are always well received. Your post should be required reading for young and old alike. ~James

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    • It sounds as if your parents were very wise! Because I agree, if we have good manners ingrained into us, then we will use them in all of our encounters with other people, and that is a good thing. Everyone wants to be treated with consideration, no matter who they are. And it really isn’t that hard to do it. Thanks so much for the comment!

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    • Thank you! One of the things I have learned from the comments is that people of all ages are annoyed by lack of manners and consideration, and that age really doesn’t have much to do with whether or not people use good manners. That’s interesting, I think.

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  22. Ann, I don’t see it as crankiness. I hate to say it, but I think that “manners” are a casualty as all aspects of civility seem to be slipping away. It just makes me appreciate those people who still know how too show a little courtesy even more. Great post!

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    • Yes, there has always been an element of rudeness in society, but it does seem as if it is on the rise these days. I think it has to do with our firm belief that we are deserving of instant gratification and the idea that our rights somehow are more important than other people’s. I’m as independent as the next person, but that doesn’t mean I get to be inconsiderate of others!

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    • I totally agree! I think that technology often encourages us to be self-centered and unaware of those around us. And the more we are thinking about just ourselves, there is defintely less consideration for the feelings, and even the rights, of others.

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    • What a very nice thing to say! Thank you so much! (And I’m sorry for the tardiness in my reply…I was away from my computer for most of yesterday, and I’m not good at doing blog stuff on my phone. The screen is so little!)

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  23. Hi Ann,
    Fab blog and yes I get it completely. I have been taking longer spells of technology as a personal challenge, although manners have still been installed in my up bringing/roots, and keeping personal matters personal,I now don’t have a mobile ( due to few falls down toilet) having that quality time out without constant contact with everyone. Manners & respect are just so different to people born more in 20000 upwards. I am 36.
    I am new to blogging and I think this was brilliant article, look forward to reading more.😊

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    • Thank you so much, and welcome to the blogging world! And I understand about the phone….they can be very tricky. There is such a thing as being connected too much of the time). I look forward to reading your posts!

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      • Yes I agree and I feel less stressed detatching myself and limiting internet times, I enjoy my quality time with my daughter as no distractions.
        Thank you I am really looking forward to my blogging journey, already finding theraputic.😊

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  24. I’m with you on every point, Ann. I can’t tell you how many cell phone conversations I’ve been forced to listen to while out in public. As for multitasking, go to any grocery store and you will see a place filled with people not watching where they’re going and who can’t buy their food without either documenting the experience on social media or consulting with a family member (in a loud conversation) about which kind of Oreos they should buy. Wow that was a bit of a rant, but I agree that a little public awareness and manners would go a long way!

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    • I don’t think it was a rant, I think you were just expressing what so many of us feel! A quick call to someone to verify you’re buying the right product in a store is okay, as long as we keep our voice down. But I get so annoyed at people who are on their cell phone, talking loudly, the whole time they are shopping and even checking out. They are the ones whose carts are blocking the aisle, almost running into others, etc., because they aren’t paying attention to where they actually are. It’s not a good thing for anyone!

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  25. Amen to all of these, Ann. You’re not getting old and cranky, you just believe that proper respect for others should be a given, which unfortunately is not the case these days. The whole speaking on the cell phone in a loud voice while Close proximity to others makes me crazy. More times than not I just stare at the person, hoping they get the message. But dumb is dumb so it doesn’t always work.

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    • “Dumb is dumb”. Ha! I think you hit the nail on the head with that one, George. The sad reality is that if someone doesn’t realize that imposing their conversation on the rest of us is rude, then they aren’t going to understand the message of your stare. I was once in an empty hallway at the animal shelter, talking to someone on my cell phone. The elevator came and I stepped on it, looked around and realized there were three other people on it too. So I said, “Goodbye” and hung up. I was NOT going to be one of those people who talk on a cell phone in an elevator full of people! I can be pretty dense sometimes, but even I know better than that.

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    • Thanks, Jean! I like to think that they will never truly go out of style, even if they are a bit rare these days. But there is always hope for the future, I think, so perhaps we will figure out a way to enjoy our technology without annoying others.

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  26. Oh my, your entire post resonated strongly with me. I like how you wrote, “privacy seems a quaint idea.” Oh my, when did this happen? A private person is looked at as suspicious or odd even nowadays. And conflict exposed on social media causes more harm than any good. Recently, I read an article that was written by a friend of mine for an online magazine. In it, she listed her four grown children’s weaknesses and how they affected her. I was shocked at the betrayal of trust. So sad.

    I’m with you, I unfortunately believe good manners are becoming obsolete. Thank you for this thought-provoking post as always. It encourages me to be more polite. =)

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    • I would have been shocked by that as well! My blog is public, which is why when I write about stuff, I usually write either about myself or about some anonymous person. I would never write about a close friend or family member (in a way that revealed their personal stuff) without their permission.
      And thanks for your kind comments. I’m also trying to remember to be as polite as I can, always!

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  27. Manners are still very important, I believe. Unfortunately, it’s the sort of thing where one person who’s blowing off steam is more noticeable than a hundred people quietly trying to make the world more pleasant. But we quiet ones still exist. Kindness still matters. I believe this pendulum will swing back in time. 🙂

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    • Yes, the ones who are being obnoxious are always the most obvious, but there are still people who know how to be considerate. And I do hope you are right about the pendulum swinging back. I guess in many ways we have to start with the children, and teaching the appropriate manners. Thanks for the comment!

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  28. Oh I hear you on this one. I think it’s terribly rude. I really dislike it when people are on their phone when they order coffee or are checking out at the store. Like the person who is taking their order or scanning their items isn’t important enough. UGH. I have also grown less tolerant. I can’t believe how rude people are. And to me, it’s always about NOISE. Our neighbors constantly play their music (like, I really don’t want to hear it) and another has a television installed OUTDOORS! For the love of God.

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    • Yes, I don’t think outdoor TVs are a good idea unless you have no neighbors at all! We do have some neighbors behind us who set up a screen and watch football games on their patio now and then, but they have the sound either off or set so low we can’t hear it, so that’s fine. It’s just a simple matter of being sensitive to the people around us, and as you say, that has become a bit rare. And I agree that talking on a cell phone when you are interacting withe someone in person is incredibly rude and disrespectful. If I were the one at the check out, I’d be inclined to simply stand there and look at them until they hung up, rather than go ahead and ring their purchase!

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  29. I’m totally with you, Ann! Manners seem to have evaporated into thin air these days. Rudeness rules! There hardly goes a day by when I’m not irritated by other people’s behaviour and mindlessness, and I really don’t think it’s because I’m getting old and cranky (since I’m still in my 30’s 😉) but because people really did change, and sadly not for the better. I often muse about what would be necessary to stop this…

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    • It does help to know that even people who are still young are also aware of the problem of declining manners. Like you, I don’t know what it will take to turn the tide, but I sure hope something happens. Most of us are in contact with other people throughout the day, so how we treat each other matters!

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