It seems only appropriate to start an article concerning manners with manners, so please feel free to peruse the rest of this column and thank you for making it through the first sentence.
Our society is obsessed with the belief that the olden days were better, as is demonstrated by the statement "the good ol' days." However; the question is: What made these "ol' days" so good? It's not like there were fewer wars, or less poverty, or fewer crooked politicians, so what's changed? What has made us the rude, ignorant nation we are today?
The answer is simple; people and their manners.
Old movies are constantly showing charming young men who can sweep women off their feet with a tip of their hat and a slight bow, not to mention beautiful women who say "thank you" and gasp if some one spits in their presence. In other words, they are filled with manners, which is what this nation is now missing. Nowhere is this fact more apparent then in our teens and children, who are growing up in a new world filled with ever-advancing technology and ideals, leaving them in a confused state as to what constitutes good manners.
With the arrival of cell phones and the Internet, and a changing idea of what is acceptable and not, it's no wonder there are problems. It's like a toddler's dance performance where no one knows what to do so some children stand still while others bob up and down and still others pick their nose.
To make it easier for Top of Utah teens, check out the following of helpful new and old rules.
You can't go wrong if you remember these classics:
* "Please" and "thank you" -- the two magic words besides "open sesame."
* Wipe mouth on napkin. Honestly, why ruin good clothes with food stains?
* Hold doors open. For a man or woman, it's just nice, especially if the person you hold it open for has stuff in their hands like a baby or a cane.
* Cover your mouth. Sneeze or a cough, cover your mouth, preferably with something besides your hand, but definitely not with the person in-front-of-you's hair.
* Call people. LOL doesn't always cut it. Usually texting is amazing, but sometimes tone gets interpreted incorrectly. Avoid uncomfortable misunderstandings or misconceptions and just call the person.
* Don't answer your phone while talking to someone else. If you have to receive the call, ask to be excused and walk at least two feet away.
* Private conversations should be private. This means that if you are on the bus or in a public area and you answer your phone, please try and keep your conversations PG or less. If it includes a bad break-up, what your body is doing, or sexual interactions, it is not appropriate to talk about in public.
Just remember two things. Your phone conversation can become someone's bit of gossip, and do you really want the scary person next to you to know what color your undies are?
* Don't swear in public. We all get frustrated but there's a difference between "crap" and full sentences of four-letter words.
* Let the woman go first. (This is for guys who don't get off the sidewalk on rainy days, thus making the girl trudge in the mud.) Whether it's through a door or getting food, it's just nice to let females go first, so step to the side fellas, and try to enjoy the view as the woman saunters by with a little extra swing to her hips. Unless it's into a pool of crocodiles -- then definitely don't let her saunter first.
* Don't stare. Now some people do weird stuff while others are just drop-dead gorgeous, but do not look for long. Not only is staring impolite but it's also creepy. Just remember, looking deeply into a person's eyes is OK, but the eyes are a little higher up than that.
* Give up your seat to women. This is for guys' safety. It's better to have a happy girl sitting down in her heels instead of a grumpy girl standing with her heels sticking out of your lifeless body.
In our fast-moving society, it is easy to forget our manners. Our nation expects fast results without consequences or concern over who may be hurt. The American way of life has become very "me"-oriented without the good old-fashioned rules, or manners, that use to keep us civil.
And the problem isn't only with today's youth -- it's also with our adults, who preach instead of act. Grown-ups no longer use manners, so how can they expect the younger generation to use them, especially since we were not taught them?
Fred Astaire, one of those dashing black-and-white film actors, once said, "The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any."
Madison Ostberg is a senior at Bonneville High School. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.