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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: Are we becoming more rude as a culture?

Be Polite go fuck yourself

Are manners disappearing? NPR ponders the apparently deteriorating situation of politeness in “Please Read This Story, Thank You”:

Listen to the conversations around you — colleagues at the office, customers in the coffeehouse line, those who serve you, those you serve, the people you meet each day. “Give me a tall latte.” “Hand me that hammer.” “Have a good one.”

Notice anything missing? The traditional magic words “please” and “thank you” that many people learn as children appear to be disappearing.

Lisa Gache, co-founder of Beverly Hills Manners in Los Angeles, has noticed the gradual vanishing of courteous language. She blames the casualty on the casual. “The slow erosion of the ‘magic words’ in our everyday vernacular,” says Gache, who coaches people to be more civil, “has to do with the predilection toward all things casual in our society today. Casual conversation, casual dress and casual behavior have hijacked practically all areas of life, and I do not think it is doing anyone a service.”

Um, there’s someone who makes a living coaching people to be more civil? That, right there, is a terrifying indication that rudeness is the new courtesy.

Other polite phrases also seem to be falling by the wayside. “You’re welcome,” for instance. Say “thank you” to someone these days, and instead of hearing “you’re welcome,” you’re more liable to hear: “Sure.” “No problem.” “You bet.” “Enjoy.” Or a long list of replies that replace the traditional “you’re welcome.”

Instead of saying “thank you,” people say “got it.” Or “have a good one.” Or, more often, nothing at all. And in lieu of saying “no, thank you,” reactions such as “I’m good” are increasingly common.

“The responses ‘have a good one,’ ‘I’m good’ or ‘you bet,’ do not carry the same sentiment or convey the same conviction as when we are sincerely expressing our gratitude or thanks,” Gache says. “They feel less invested, almost as if they are painful to utter under our breath.”

Please excuse us for asking the questions: Are we just finding new ways to say old, polite phrases? Are good manners merely morphing? Or are they fading away altogether?

There’s more. Please — ahem — read the whole thing.

What do you think? Are we becoming more rude as a culture? Or is it merely that our definition of “good manners” is changing? Is “I’m good” an acceptable substitute for “No, thank you”? Is “You bet” a perfectly polite response to “Thank you”?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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