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Bad Manners These Days Is More Worrying Than an Old Band

Bad Manners These Days Is More Worrying Than an Old Band

MBF Blog readers under 30 probably will not agree with this. But some of us well past that landmark age actually find quite a lot of modern behaviour downright rude. At least by the measures we were raised on.

Many young people have a habit of saying ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ when you are talking and explaining something. They do it as a means of encouragement, presumably. We just find it offensive, like yeah old timer, I can barely be bothered to listen, what do you know, die and leave some space!

But it’s in the field of technology that manners really are defined nowadays.


This is the relatively recent phenomenon wherein you can be talking to somebody who suddenly answers a phone or looks for texts, while still apparently talking to you. Or at least pretending to listen.

It may be multi-tasking, it may be acceptable between people where both (or all) parties are talking superficially but actually are more focused on their virtual social life than the reality before them.

A recent poll by British aristocracy and manners outfit, Debrett’s discovered that almost 75% of respondents felt that ‘mobile phones and tablets actively encouraged rudeness.’

This is quite a different lack of manners than the person who destroys the peace in the ‘quiet carriage’ of a train. Or shares their entire conversation of puerile observations with everybody within earshot. That is no more/worse than the modern compunction to share every thought, every meal, every toilet visit with alleged ‘friends’ in cyberspace.

No, this phubbing undermines common sense and indicates that the perpetrators are uncaring about anybody else’s sensibilities.

Job Prospects Harmed

Last week another report suggested that most bosses interviewing an applicant with any visible tattoos would look upon them unfavourably. This is because the view is generally that customer-facing staff need to show respect for themselves before being able to respect the buyers.

Those who sport their tattoos on wizened old bodies worsen still further their job hopes. But the increasing and frequently obsessive use of technology is warping people’s development of ‘basic face-to-face communication skills’, according to Debrett’s.

They are the self-proclaimed guardians of the nation’s manners and now they offer young people training courses to build confidence in communication.

The text, they teach, is by itself not a substitute for a conversation in person, particularly if conveying bad news. Like ‘you’re fired’ or ‘I don’t want to have a relationship with you anymore…’

Bad Dates

One unhappy young man, Kishore Nimmala (32) set up a date online with Fakhara Sultana and the pair shared an evening in London’s Leicester Square. He spent £54 on drinks and insisted she paid half, but she claimed to have no money.

He became angry and she walked away. As she walked he grabbed her Blackberry from her instead.

He was caught by two passing policemen and is now facing theft charges in court. But was that right? Which one behaved well? Neither? Certainly.

It is important to be clear about communication.

Old Fashioned Manners

At the risk of being dismissed as old fashioned, one of many sites that point out the elements of decent, civilised behaviour as Elegantwoman where 10 common courtesies are listed: ‘Courtesies evolve as society changes, though the root of courtesy is kindness and consideration for others.’

The writer says, ‘In the list of good manners, I realised that it is the ‘little things’ that matter the most.’ Little gestures make a world of difference.

  • Saying please and thank you
  • Never intentionally embarrassing another
  • Never talking only about oneself
  • Not gossiping
  • Not prying
  • Not asking intrusive personal questions
  • Not staring
  • Not pointing at someone
  • Dressing appropriately
  • Not talking loudly

Most social media practice is the very antithesis of these rules. Out of date, yes. Society has to change. Women don’t want to be given seats on public transport unless they’re pregnant, but then how do you know? So you leave them standing, not wishing to offend.

People don’t want doors held open for them, they’d rather, according to many today, just have the door swung in their faces. People don’t want compliments, or they may be racist, sexist or some other ist.

But the fact is thanks can do wonders for friendships, personal and business relationships and are as rare these days as hens’ teeth.

In May this year a family I know went a long way to a wedding of a relation. They put a cheque in with a card. The groom’s grandmother gave the couple a substantial sum.

Phone call of thanks? You’d have thought so. Especially to the grandmother. Anyway, three months later everyone got a printed thanks with photos and a tiny written scribble.

Too late, too little. But apparently that’s about par for the course. Givers to another young couple I know, who married over a year ago, are getting their thanks now and ONLY if they make a fuss and ask for it!

But I understand that there were so many more important things to do before saying thanks, like social media updating, phubbing and generally polishing up ways of being totally self-centred.

Other blogs to glance through:

Raising Blood Pressure: Don’t You Hate It When … ? 4 September 2013

Compulsive, Addictive Behaviour Is the Price of the Device, 23 April 2013

No Place for the Human Touch in Complex Algorithms, 20 August 2013

There Is No Off-Switch in Today’s 24/7 Connected World, 6 August 2013

Is the Fantasy of the Smartphone Getting Silly Now? 12 June 2013

The Technology Debate Is Now More or Less, With Something In Between, 10 June 2013

Not Picking Up the Warnings on Phone Use Can Prove Costly, 11 March 2013

Image: milesgehm