Jan 28, 2012

Is It Young People – Or Are Manners Disappearing?

Before you even start reading this article you already have an opinion on the topic. Likely if you’re Gen Y or younger your first reaction is, no, young people still have great manners, and if you’re Gen X or older, you might um and ah and eventually come to the conclusion that manners just aren’t the same as they used to be. It may surprise you to know that I am Gen Y – and actually epitomise the stereotype in a lot of ways. I don’t know if it’s sporting the diamond ring on the wedding finger, or just that I’ve been spending time on public transport which has given me thinking time, but it has all of a sudden dawned on me that I actually agree with the Gen X and older idea – manners just aren’t what they used to be.

When I was raised, we were taught all of the old fashioned values, we were told to respect our elders, not speak out of turn, and to let the ‘grown ups’ make the decision. Now, I am by no means at all an advocate of children should be seen and not heard… but from what I’ve seen lately, some of them should be neither seen or heard.

I may sound harsh, and you may be firmly disagreeing with the idea that manners have gone out the window, but just think about some of these examples and see if you relate:

1.Public transport etiquette

I don’t care who you are, if you are under 40, able bodied and not pregnant, you should rapidly remove yourself from your seat on public transport as soon as a person with a disability, pregnant lady or someone elderly gets on the bus. And yet, in a lot of cases, this now doesn’t happen – isn’t even a consideration. I watched in awe one day, when taking my peak hour bus into the city for work, as an approximately fifteen year old, able bodied, fit teenage boy, looked a heavily pregnant woman in the eye – from his position in the disabled seating, ignored her blatantly, and continued to sit. I, like most passengers, was outraged. Finally someone gave up their seat and challenged him to do the same. My question is – has he never heard this rule… or are his manners so abysmal that he just ignored it?

2.Ps and Qs

I’m no saint, I will admit I use the odd expletive, but my upbringing told me to turn it off whenever in a public place, around the elderly or around children. And yet, just recently I see a group of young teenage girls sitting in a public area loudly declaring every expletive under the sun. Were they not taught better, or don’t they care?


It’s not quite manners, but it almost fits in -- empathy and respect for those who don’t have it as good as you. Recently, I walked down the main drag of a big Sydney suburb and to my dismay, saw a group of teenage boys taking great delight in making life very difficult for a similar aged disabled boy. What were they thinking?

So as I start to contemplate kids, maternity wear, schools; and note more and more that these mannerless kids are out there and growing in force, I wonder if there’s still hope for old fashioned values.


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