Social Etiquette 101: Because we all need it

Social media has taken over our lives and we are constantly “connected” to it. However, as we get drawn in further and further we seem to lose touch with the real world more and more. This is not one of those anti-social-media rants. Rather, this comes from observing people around us and realizing that we are beginning to forget some of the basic rules of living in a civil society. Since schools and universities do not offer a course on social etiquette, here’s an easy to read guide for social idiots.

9. (Re)Learn how to speak
EXCUSE ME. Could you PLEASE learn to speak this way? THANK YOU.
Too many people grow up in society with a sense of entitlement. The concept of asking for something, for requesting anything, has completely left them. They DEMAND their space and their coffee and their hamburger. They get confrontational when someone (accidentally) bumps in to them. They think that swearing profusely is an acceptable form of speech. Look, we get that you are very important and possibly the second coming of Chuck Norris. That does not entitle you to be a prick about it. If you want to be a functioning member of society, then learn to be polite by following these simple beginner steps: If you want something, say please. If you get something, say thank you. If you step on someone’s shoes, say sorry. If you’re maneuvering through a crowd, say excuse me.

You will notice a world of difference when you start to speak like a human. People will respond in kind, you will feel better about yourself, and you’ll avoid that awkward moment when someone gives you a beat down for not saying sorry when you stepped on his brand new boots.

8. Disconnect from “Social” Media when in a Social Setting
I don’t quite understand the need to “check-in” everywhere you go with your friends. But you got to do what you got to do. However, once you’ve checked in, put your electronic devices away. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people who are hanging out with their friends at the mall, but have both earphones plugged in. If you did that to me, I would probably de-friend you or throw your iPod away (depending on my mood). I just don’t get the need to be listening to music or texting or blogging while you are with your friends. If you detest their company so much, then stay at home. If you’re addicted to your device that much that you can’t put it away for an hour, then you are socially inept and need help. Come on! Are you really “having fun at the club” with your friends, if you feel the need to pull out your phone and tweet about it?

OR, at the restaurant, I see a child with his parents and the child is playing games on his Nintendo DS. Can’t blame the kid for having bad parenting. If I had pulled out my Gameboy during dinner when I was a kid, my mom would have thrown it away and slapped me on the back of the head (in no particular order). Looking at society today, we need parents to start doing more of that. Teach your kids to put away their games and iPods, so that they may learn the importance of social interaction.

7. Know your surroundings
We all get carried away when we are excited. We talk loudly, we laugh hysterically, and we hoot and holler. However, some people act like this all the time no matter where they are. If you’re at a hockey game, screaming “WOOH!” is acceptable. If you’re on a bus surrounded by elderly people, it’s not. The trick to being a socially apt member of society is finding the balance between fun and etiquette. Your right to fun has limits, and those limits end at someone’s ears. If you are making a large group of people around you uncomfortable with your swearing and raucous behaviour, then it’s probably time to shut up. This does not mean that you are okay to run your mouth while at a hockey game. Once again, be aware of your surroundings. If someone taps your shoulder and politely asks you to not swear so much because they are with kids, then be respectful and cut it down.

There is a flip side to this rule. It’s called….

6. Stop being so uptight
We live in an individualistic society, where the media (and parents) constantly remind us how important WE are. The problem is we can’t always get people to play by our rules. We need to realize that people will always act in different ways in different situations, they will always bend the rules of acceptable behaviour and they will test our patience. The solution: stop being uptight and let loose. There are many advantages to letting loose. Firstly, it is a much cheaper way to relieve stress than yoga or a spa. Secondly, you will be happier if you are not always uptight. We can all see the lighter side of things by being less uptight. Next time you hear a politically incorrect joke, try laughing about it. Concentrate on the sarcasm and irony rather than the offensive material. You will instantly feel smarter and you will probably add a few years to your life.
So, the next time someone else steps on your shoes or is swearing profusely at the hockey game: Let it slide! You may avoid that awkward moment when you become Mister Self-Righteous and end up being more annoying to everyone around you than the original perpetrator.

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