A courteous gentleman tipping his hat in a black and white era of yesteryear
21st July 2016 The MALESTROM

Do Manners Matter?

“Good manners and kindness are always in fashion.”

– Unknown

Fashions change, but good manners retain their value no matter what the climate. It would appear on the surface that manners are a dying trend in this hectic modern age. Chivalry has become a thing of the past, a throwback to a time long forgotten. The act of giving up your seat for others or holding a door open for someone now tends to be greeted by a suspicious look rather than a gracious thank you. But why have things changed so much? And do manners really matter?

A decline in examples of manners can be linked to a number of things but lets start with a chief culprit our old friend the phone. Phones particularly those of the mobile variety have a lot to answer for when examining the decline of manners. We can all picture the scene sat inside a pub with a friend while watching wearily as they text everyone in their entire contacts list or stare at their Facebook feed. In fact many social situations with friends have more accurately become social media situations as everyone pays more attention to the twittersphere than the company they keep. But there are other factors in the demise of civility.

How we are brought up is key to what manners are instilled within us from an early age. Within the confines of modern parenting, basic discipline has become a dirty word in households throughout the country. Perhaps the rise of a more liberal style of parenting has to accept some blame for not instilling core values in children from an early age. Now we at The MALESTROM aren’t advocating the return of draconian measures like beatings with the cane but maybe trying to teach the ways of better conduct and politeness might be a good place to start. Most families traditionally used to sit down to eat dinner together, but siblings and parents gathering for a nightly meal is pretty much a thing of the past in most homes. And if it does happen the likelihood is most attention will be placed on a phone or a tablet at the table rather than a heated conversation about the gravy. Many of these little important rituals in life are being lost, and that’s a shame.

“Good manners will open doors that the best education will not.”

– Clarence Thomas

Of course some parents may argue that the teachers have to shoulder some responsibility. It’s true teaching methods have changed somewhat over the years. There can’t be many schools left in the country where pupils stand up when a teacher enters the room, but once this was standard procedure. Teachers used to be afforded more time to mould social behaviour but due to the pressure put on them to get results academia is firmly at the forefront to the detriment of imparting decorum.

The British used to be standard bearers for good manners but now to say we’ve been overtaken by many of our fellow European (for the moment at least) counterparts would be a huge understatement. Travel to somewhere like Denmark for example, courtesy and kindness seem second nature to our Scandinavian counterparts. It almost feels like the country we used to be, a more polite and respectful society.

Good manners will open doors, create opportunities, bring people into your lives, earn you respect, give you confidence. Manners aren’t the pre-requisite of the elite, who wish to own such virtues – no they’re the staple of the everyman, the workingman. Generosity afforded will always be repaid in abundance. Manners are something you learn, but after that, they’re quite simply what makes you a perfect member of society, they require no political affiliation, no money, no standing. They may be old fashioned, but they’ve stood the test of time and they will serve you well. Never question the value of good manners.

“Manners cost you nothing, but ignorance will cost you everything.”

– Ryan Swain

They may seem old fashioned to some but they are essential, they do matter. They serve a moral purpose that separates us from pond life. They enable us to become better, more decent people. It goes back to the old adage of treat people how you would want to be treated. So if you can, try and make a conscious effort to hold that door open and say thank you when someone does something for you, you might find people start acting the same way toward you and we can make life a little easier for all of us. Now wouldn’t that be nice. Oh and thank you for reading, where are our manners!

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