Are Good Manners Dying?

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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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For those bashing the youth, I find it is the old that are worst, they push past you expect you to give way and at the moment when we are trying to be Covid secure get far too close.
They also seem to think that they don’t need to use manners or a polite to e when they speak.


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I have to agree; with no disrespect or prejudice intended, old women in shops seem to think they have a right to push in front at a queue, have no qualms about pushing past you to reach the very article you are looking at in a shop, and, if you go to any of the 'craft' fairs it's like watching hyenas at a kill some times.

I used to get a bit lippy and say something like "that's OK, you push in ahead of me, you've got less time than me left" - but now I'm getting too old to get away with it or be bothered to be honest :)
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
Yeah, I'm with you on that one.
My other bete noirs are British people who refer to films as 'movies' and the phrase, 'No worries' when I go into a shop and ask for something (I feel the need to reply, 'It's really not causing me any worries.' But I don't because I know it won't achieve anything except making me look like a git).

But these things are my problem and there's no reason why anyone could or should stop saying these things.
Language changes all the time and so do its verbal tics. And I love the fact that it does so.
Can you pass the salt and pepper? Yes I can but does that mean you want the salt and pepper or just asking if I have the ability to pass it? That's an anomaly of meaning within the English language that people without English as their mother tongue find a bit unusual. As explained by a Latvian who spoke a great number of languages to a very good level so had the knowledge to spot English language idiosyncrasies.

Manners? Cultural constructs. Norwegian men apparently don't hold doors open for women indeed nobody holds the door open for anyone from my experience. If you, as a polite/well mannered Brit, holds a door open you'll probably get a few going through in what is a manner considered bad form in Britain among those with good manners. But do Norwegians have bad manners for that? Norway is one of the most equal societies and IME very polite too. So what does that say about our good manners? Are they wrong or are Norwegians wrong?

My point being manners are only a means for people to get along. So long as you're getting along does it matter if you've got old fashioned or modern manners? Or indeed any manners? IMHO if you're not being obnoxious or rude then you've got good enough manners for me.
 
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TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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Can you pass the salt and pepper? Yes I can but does that mean you want the salt and pepper or just asking if I have the ability to pass it? That's an anomaly of meaning within the English language that people without English as their mother tongue find a bit unusual. As explained by a Latvian who spoke a great number of languages to a very good level so had the knowledge to spot English language idiosyncrasies.

Manners? Cultural constructs. Norwegian men apparently don't hold doors open for women indeed nobody holds the door open for anyone from my experience. If you, as a polite/well mannered Brit, holds a door open you'll probably get a few going through in what is a manner considered bad form in Britain among those with good manners. But do Norwegians have bad manners for that? Norway is one of the most equal societies and IME very polite too. So what does that say about our good manners? Are they wrong or are Norwegians wrong?

My point being manners are only a means for people to get along. So long as you're getting along does it matter if you've got old fashioned or modern manners? Or indeed any manners? IMHO if you're not being obnoxious or rude then you've got good enough manners for me.


Specifically as this is a BCUK forum and nearly ( i'm guessing ) 95% of the participants and contributors are British I'm relating the original question to what we would term/define as manners within the UK.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
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Vantaa, Finland
Now I don't know how much truth there is in "The English language is the result of Norman soldiers trying to pick up Saxon barmaids", but if any the 0.8 version was fairly crude and it took some time to reach 1.0. I think it is nowadays classified as a creole language because of some typical features.

I do find some English customs slightly odd but so far I think limits of "politeness" have not been exceeded. I know that in some cases I don't know how to follow the English version of well mannered behaviour but so far no one has called the police, I have no idea what they called me afterwards.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Specifically as this is a BCUK forum and nearly ( i'm guessing ) 95% of the participants and contributors are British I'm relating the original question to what we would term/define as manners within the UK.

But that in itself is a problem. We are a nation of mixed cultures and, even between the traditional areas of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, there are subtle differences in 'good behaviour' and manners. Add to that all the other ethnic groups that have been added to our mix since the dawn of time and there cannot possibly be one 'manual' for good manners in the UK.

I will admit there is a fundamental ground set of courtesy that one would hope all would adopt but that is far from everything that people tend to lump in with 'good manners'.

As for 'respect' - I'm sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, that's earned not a right.

I do say 'please' to Alexa though; when AI takes over in the not-to-distant future it will remember :) (it's also because if my grandchildren are listening I need to maintain a level of courtesy when asking someone or something to do something).
 
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TeeDee

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But that in itself is a problem. We are a nation of mixed cultures and, even between the traditional areas of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, there are subtle differences in 'good behaviour' and manners. Add to that all the other ethnic groups that have been added to our mix since the dawn of time and there cannot possibly be one 'manual' for good manners in the UK.

I will admit there is a fundamental ground set of courtesy that one would hope all would adopt but that is far from everything that people tend to lump in with 'good manners'.

As for 'respect' - I'm sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, that's earned not a right.

I do say 'please' to Alexa though; when AI takes over in the not-to-distant future it will remember :) (it's also because if my grandchildren are listening I need to maintain a level of courtesy when asking someone or something to do something).


Problem for you maybe. :)

What I meant is I cannot comment on what is Polite or Good Manners in other countries. I have no idea what constitutes good Manner are in Tonga , Venezuela or Bulgaria.

IF I moved there however and wished to integrate without causing irritation then I suspect I would learn.
When I holiday in different countries one of the first things I try to do is get the local Waiter or Taxi driver teach me how to say 'Please' & 'Thank You' - Not much really but its applying your own standards elsewhere I guess.


I don't think there is much point in going down the ethnic changing of the UK as its only going to ( unintentionally ) get political very fast. Societies change - I get it.



As for A.I , I wouldn't worry - I've had a chat with Alexa and apparently your name is already on some sort of list its keeping. :)
 

TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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I have to agree; with no disrespect or prejudice intended, old women in shops seem to think they have a right to push in front at a queue, have no qualms about pushing past you to reach the very article you are looking at in a shop, and, if you go to any of the 'craft' fairs it's like watching hyenas at a kill some times.

I used to get a bit lippy and say something like "that's OK, you push in ahead of me, you've got less time than me left" - but now I'm getting too old to get away with it or be bothered to be honest :)


If you feel the above is an example of someone acting impolitely and rude then surely there must be a common set of rules that you yourself hold as a measure of politeness?

I get and understand what you are suggesting ref differing cultural norms , but I can only seem to reach a point trying to follow your train of thought that Manners are purely the realm of each individual regardless of culture, age and sex.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,143
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Mid Wales
My main point is only that I do not think 'good manners are dying' as you asked in the OP. I think they have always been lacking in certain groups of people. I remember thinking that some older women were the most ill-mannered people I'd come across when I was a kid.

I think, as other people have mentioned, manners are not the same as courtesy or politeness. I have dined with people where to use your left hand would have been the height of bad manners despite the fact the modern sanitation means that there is no practical reason not to do so. However, it was polite to stay within my host's traditional rules of good manners.

So, to avoid rambling which I appear to be doing, I will always try and remain polite and I expect others to do the same - what manners I apply to do so will depend on who I am with and where I am.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
Years ago in used to get b the bus into town to work. I think it was because a broken hand stopped me driving for. Couple of months. I got it at the same time every day and meet the same people too. One was this black, immigrant who by any measure you could think of had immaculate manners.

One day we were queuing up as normal with the front of the queue in the direction where the bus came from. That's the place the bus stopped and everyone knew it. An old lady turned up just before the bus came in. She promptly pushed and actually elbowed her way to the front. Everyone rumbled with disgust but everyone was too polite to say anything. The bus came and overshot the stop. The old lady only managed to push past two people so most people got on before her. Let's just say people were laughing about it on the bus as we got some payback courtesy of the bus driver.

The thing is the basics of manners are probably globally universal as they're really a means to get along in a community. However what isn't universal is following those manners. In the above case the Johnny foreigner easily out mannered the native English woman. I think he was grateful of the chance to start over that the UK gave him. I also believe that some places manners still matter but perhaps not so much the places but the people there.

If you want to keep it about Britain then I'll say that there are some places where manners depend on whether you're from there. Being an incomer, tourist, visitor or from another UK nation is enough to warrant locals treating you with really bad manners. I've had that from mostly rural or small villages/towns. However, if you get past that you often get accepted as ok for an Englishman/Scot/Welshman.

Other lack of manners can be due to age, not one of theirs, lack of good examples as a kid or many other reasons. I have no real issue with any except bad manners borne of prejudice.
 

Oliver G

Forager
Sep 15, 2012
234
118
Melbourne, Derbyshire
I think manners remain mostly intact, or at least haven't changed much in the last 10 years, I still see bus loads of kids thanking drivers when they get off buses.

What I have noticed is the general view of respect is changing, particularity with my generation (28) and younger. I've seen quite a few interactions between young and old people when the older person has assumed you younger is an oik and therefore not respected them but seem surprised that they're not treated with respect themselves.

I think the thoughts of a lot of the younger generations are now, "well if people aren't respecting me, why have they done to earn my respect?"

I'll be interested to hear what people think for the other side so to speak.
 

gra_farmer

Settler
Mar 29, 2016
560
309
Kent
I held a door open for a woman at work once, and got accused of sexual discrimination.....it went quite far to CEO level, only for it to be dropped, when the woman sent an email out to everyone saying they were baby killers for eating Nestle chocolate bars....

i would hold a door open for a dog and cat, let alone any human, that experience made me think differently about being polite.....
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,117
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Wiltshire
When I see someone give up their seat on the bus for anolder person, its always the young, not the middle aged
 

oldtimer

Full Member
A true story: We were coming back from town on a late bus full of young people who had clearly had a convivial evening. One fairly drunk young man who had been staring at me lurched awkwardly to his feet and staggered towards me. As I braced myself for trouble, he peered into my face and said, "Excuse me, but would you like my seat?" In vino veritas!
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,584
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Canada
I remember a friend of mine who was born and raised a little outside Newcastle but who lived in London. He told me, and its totally true, that say you were in a Newcastle cafe (I lived there for a bit) and were to ask someone to pass the salt; you'd say, 'excuse me, would you mind passing me the salt, please'. And you'd say 'thank you'. In London, you might just catch someones eye, grin and perfectly politely say 'pass the salt' indicating your good intentions and thanks with body language and tone of voice. And it'll be fine. I notice that, in Canada for instance, there are people who are very very polite, but, coming from where I do, it reads to me like someone taking the mick or being sneaky.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
As a youngster me and my sister were always good to stand up to let an older person sit down, older as in pensioner or close to. We grumbled but did it. It usually became fun trying not lose your balance as the train or bus lurched around.

When I got to adulthood I had seen enough of British society to know manners weren't universal. So I was less inclined to give up my seat possibly because of a kind of unspoken peer pressure. Nobody else read giving their seat up so why should I? Besides that look as over there is my agree wants he's closer to the old lady. However doing so always played on my mind much longer than the bus or train journey lasted. Guilt played deep with my my soul. Even though eventually n someone gave their seat up.

About the same time I visited my sister working in Athens. Now back then they had a trolley bus network instead of an underground. They were alway busy. The thing I found interesting was how people practically competed try give their seat up for older generation, pregnant women, women with young children or anyone with health issues such as anything needing walking sticks or crutches. It was a very nice city to visit i thought. I went all over using them and got into some places in other cities is possibly not get out of. Athens back then had demonstrations going off pretty much every day somewhere. Riots were something that happened several times a year complete with burnt out cars and buses. However during the day and away from those disturbances Athens was a safe, pleasant and well mannered city IME. I reckon it's changed by now but the respect for old ladies in black will still be present!
 

oldtimer

Full Member
On the Paris Metro, it is compulsory to give up one's seat to a wounded ex-serviceman, an elderly or infirm person or a pregnant woman. A young woman got on at the Porte Maillot and asked a man to give up his seat for a pregnant woman. When he asked her how long she had been pregnant, she looked at her watch and said it had been about thirty five minutes.
 

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