The atrophy of etiquette

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ARTUR
The world might be a better, more respectful place if learning etiquette was more of a priority.

It is something we’ve all been told before, “mind your P’s and Q’s,” or some other variation of the saying. The essence behind the saying is to be mindful and considerate of the things you say and do. The mindfulness is the issue in question today.

With so much to consider on a daily basis, the easiest things to overlook and take for granted are the very fundamental teachings we’re told and shown to do from an early age. Distractions are everywhere, but no greater distraction exists then the one that occurs in the palm of our hands. The cellphone, the tablet or the technological device requires us to divide our attention from what we are doing. Often, this interruption to attention leads to “fender benders” of the anatomical kind.

We can get so caught up in what is happening where we aren’t, that we miss out on moments where we are, and subsequently, unintentionally offend others through our absentmindedness.

Have you ever been a participant of the too-many-bodies-for-the-sidewalk dilemma? In my younger years I was expected to heed the advice and counsel of my elders. One of the threads of direction that I was given was the responsibility of moving out of the way for one’s elders, whether it be giving up a seat on a mode of transport, or yielding to the shoulder of the sidewalk to allow for others going in the opposite direction to pass without impediment.

Sadly, this universal understanding is seldom exercised. I have personally experienced being run off the sidewalk by a group of two or more individuals, whom I can only imagine felt they were entitled to occupy the entire stretch of concrete. Maybe if we treated public walkways the way we do roads, then the issue of inconsideration while walking becomes a thing of little concern.

Maybe we need to think about implementing a “Walker’s Licence” initiative. Much like how we are allowed to drive a vehicle once we turn legal age and successfully complete testing, a “Walker’s Licence” would require a similar prerequisite.

Albeit, there wouldn’t be anyone available to police infractions that could occur, so the program would depend solely upon the integrity of the individuals who have shown the aptitude to obtain the licence. The idea may be a ludicrous one, but then so is the reason for the pitch. Etiquette is easy.

Have you ever been waiting for a bus and experienced the headache of the late arrival rider whose explicit inconsideration of your existence leads to you losing your spot in line? This is an image that has been observed too regularly by this writer.

Maybe it seems like no big deal as both parties, regardless of their position for bus boarding, still get a proverbial seat and make it to their destination. On one hand, I would agree. On the other hand though, it is the principle of respecting other people that makes acceptance of a laissez-faire attitude difficult.

When push comes to shove, little gestures of etiquette can make a world of difference for us all. Etiquette can lead to better resolves when disputes arise, giving way to listening and respecting differences of opinion, while being able to voice your own point of view appropriately.

Etiquette can raise our spirits when we’re experiencing one of those days where anything and everything seems to be going awry. Etiquette can raise our awareness about things taking place in the “right now” moments of life, encouraging us to be more present in our daily movements.

Lastly, etiquette can lead to a universal language that is understood around the globe, and whose translation is clear and able to bridge misunderstanding.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.