In my childhood, my mother was a stickler on good manners. She was determined no matter how challenged our family was economically that we would know how to behave in the real world. She made sure we wrote thank you notes, said 'please' and 'thank you', stand up if someone came into the room for the first time and be always be sure to be either a gracious host or guest.
Manners seem to have increasingly become lost in the world of modern technology. In fact, paying attention to your surroundings, good conversation and soaking up the joy of our lives could soon be placed on the endangered species list. So in an effort to help stem the tide toward total self absorption, I have turned to my alter-ego "Big Daddy" for advice on good manners.
Big Daddy's first real concern were those annoying smart phones and the plague of text messages. He related five absolutely 'don'ts' to be able to maintain good manners and help create a more interactive society with real human beings and not gadgets.
1. DON'T come to a lunch or dinner and immediately set your smart phones on the table. You either have come to the event to enjoy the company or the evening the host has planned for you so carefully. Even if you pretend you are not looking them everyone can see you glance at them non-stop. Also texting with the smart phone in your lap is a joke. Everyone knows you are doing it. Put them away. Turn them off. Nothing is that important it can't wait for two hours.
2. DON'T walk down the street texting people or checking your texts. You bump into people, you are missing the world you are living in and you most likely will soon be hit by a car in a crosswalk. Simply because you are on a smart phone doesn't give you the right to the entire sidewalk nor is it my responsibility to watch out for you. If you have to text, simply stand at the edge of the sidewalk until you are done and then resume walking and taking in the world.
3. DON'T believe you are so special that after the announcement comes from the pilot or flight attendant to turn off all electronic devices believe you are more special than everyone else and the rule really doesn't apply to you. Flight attendants have a tough job in today's world of cattle call traveling. Don't make it harder, create a scene or ignore them. It is just damn rude.
4. DON'T go to the theater with someone and sit there and text until the show starts. Part of the process of going to the theater is to enjoy each other's company, to chat and bond as friends or acquaintances. Try conversation before the show You will find it is amazingly delightful.
5. DON'T simply whip out your smart phone and start taking pictures at a private party or over dinner. Please ask your host if you might take one or two snapshots. Simply say, "This is such a wonderful evening I don't want to forget it. Would it be a disruption if I took a picture or two?" Remember, some of the guests might have turned down other invites to attend the function you are attending and might not want their photographs plastered all over Facebook. Always ask for permission before snapping away like a wedding photographer.
Big Daddy wonders if you have some 'don't's' for the use of smart phones.