Being polite is so rare these days that it’s often confused with flirting.
There’s a general sentiment about today’s society when it comes to the topic of manners. We constantly lament the loss of simple words such as please and thank you, as we mourn politeness and consideration for others. And in the Internet’s usual way of making a quick judgement, we blame the previous generation of parents for not teaching these habits to our current generation of adults.
I cannot agree with that logic, nor do I feel it’s fair to simply use parents as the scapegoats for ill-mannered people. What if the problem isn’t a lack of politeness at all? What if the problem is that we have taught people to refuse politeness and manners, to look at them from a negative perspective?
Just consider the quote I mentioned at the beginning. “Being polite is so rare these days that it’s often confused with flirting.” We have created this mentality that anyone with manners, or even anyone who treats us well, does so because they have ulterior motives. Take a second to consider the following examples.
A young man complements a lady on her dress. What’s her reaction? To thank him? Unless she’s interested in the young man, rarely. She will probably mention that she has a boyfriend, even if the conversation had nothing to do with her relationship status. An entire sector within our society, composed of men and women with a desperate need to feel offended, will say that something as simple as a man opening a door is in reality some act of oppression against the woman or against the man, all depending who wrote of the cry-blog.
And it’s not just about the interaction between men and women. A man complements another man and the man in the receiving end will wonder if he is being hit on or if he is being set up for some kind of swindle. A woman complements another woman, and the woman in the receiving end will wonder if it’s some kind of thinly veiled insult.
It’s not that we have forgotten how to be polite to each other, but that we’ve forgotten how to react to politeness. We are constantly told that complements and politeness comes at a price. Worse of all, in some cases, it does; validating this social paranoia we are forced to live in. We live in a society that spotlights anyone with proper behavior, hoping they fail at one point, simply to justify a conclusion we were indoctrinated into long ago.
Politeness and manners aren’t gone. We have just chosen to overlook them as we focus on every single negative action that happens in our lives. We don’t remember the person who said thank you, but rather focus on the ungrateful one who didn’t. You want to see manners become important within our society again? Make them important within your life first.