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Etiquette for Modern Times: Part 1

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Published December 8th 2013
A guide for coping with the modern world

In the past, etiquette was a relatively easy concept to understand. Manners, politeness, treating others well was a part of growing up. Of course, a lot of it was derived from the class society, but that didn't mean you couldn't be nice to people.

But the rules of etiquette were a confusing morass of doing and saying the right thing at the right time to the right person. Right? Right.

etiquette, street, manners, niceness
This could possibly be outdated
Image courtesy of with thanks

So it's no surprise that etiquette has struggled in modern times to keep up with the changing world. Miss Manners style musings simply cannot cope with modern technology, online lives and the changes in society. Here, then, are the first steps to addressing this imbalance, and to try and help bring niceness to modern people.

Mobile Phones

1) You know, in this day and age of message bank and text and stuff like that, you don't need to take every single call that comes your way. In fact, there are some times, some very good times like, say, in a cinema or on a date when you can even turn the phone off. I mean it. Go on. Try it. It won't hurt you. I promise.

2) If you ignore some-one with you by talking on a phone instead of to them, then don't get upset when they ignore you. In fact, some shops now won't serve you if you're talking on a phone. And fair enough, too.

3) Texting is not a substitute for talking. It might feel like it is, but it isn't. It takes longer, for a start. And the unhappy side effect of using text-speak as real words can occur. Seriously, why say the word, "Lol," instead of just, you know, laughing?

4) Ring tones should at least have a hint of subtlety about them. Because, let's face it, if you forget rule (1) and are at a funeral, having the theme song to The Smurfs playing as the departed's daughter delivers the eulogy is probably not the best thing to happen.

mobile phone, broken, society, cell phone
The wish of everyone else in the cinema
Image courtesy of user:JohnEdwards

5) Talking loudly on your mobile especially with a blue tooth device attached makes you look like a psychopath with personality disorder issues. Inside voices, people inside voices.


child, video game, television, baby-sitter
Ahh, the modern day baby-sitter... Image courtesy of user:click

1) For a parent, saying, "No," is always an option. Children do not need to be given everything they ask for. Really. Refusal won't kill them.

(2) The latest gadgets are not compulsory. Just because it looks cool, a child does not need the latest smartphone with complete Internet access. No, really, they don't. What they need is to play and have fun and do school work, not take selfies and surf the 'Net.

(3) Letting a child dress like a (how can I put this? hmm...) street-walker is not empowering, it's just plain creepy. Kids clothes are called "kids clothes" because they are clothes for a kid.

(4) Living vicariously through your child is not living. Seriously. Let them do their own thing.

(5) Dirt is not poisonous. It's not going to kill a child. Ditto for sand, mud, grass and fresh air. You are allowed to turn off their video games and computers and put them outside for a few minutes. No, you are.

Social Media

(1) Not everything needs to be shared. Seriously. Especially not absolutely everything. For example pictures of the food you just bought, or the food as you're eating it, or the food after it's passed through you interest no-one except you, possibly your mother, and maybe that weird person who's been stalking you online.

(2) Not everything needs to be public. There are settings to make things for 'friends only'. Use them once in a while. After all, getting your very own stalker is not necessarily something you would want now, is it?

whisper, talk, sharing, social, social media
The original social sharing... and still the best.
Image courtesy of user:ronnieb

(3) Remember, once it's public, it's there forever. You can delete it from your end, but there's always some-one else who else has kept it on their end. That stalker?

(4) If you post something just to impress people, chances are that you're not. Except maybe a certain stalker.

(5) Think about how much time and effort you actually spend reading and looking at what others post, and now compare that small amount of time to the vast amount of time you spend posting pictures and videos and comments and statuses and other things you write. Now, think about this: everyone else is doing the same things in the same proportions. Maybe not the stalker you've somehow attracted, but everyone else.


(1) Online dating profiles should have some basis in reality. After all, you are going to meet in real life one day, aren't you? Aren't you?

(2) What your friends think about your partner is actually secondary to what you think. Yes, they might have valid opinions, but they aren't you. Likewise, taking a photo of said new partner and asking your friends to rate him might not be the best thing for his/her self-esteem.

love, relationship, word, sculpture, art
It's more than just a word or a piece of art. Seriously.
Image from user:kconnors

(3) Second Life and similar online places create "real relationships" only in the sense that your online avatar is a perfect visual representation of the "real you".

(4) Breaking up by email is slightly tacky. Breaking up by text message is slightly more tacky. Breaking up by changing a FaceBook status is a bit beyond tacky.

(5) Maybe your family and closest friends would like to know about upcoming nuptials / babies / etc. before your 1000s of anonymous Twitter followers or the like.

Using Technology

(1) Just because every device nowadays seems to have the ability to take photos anywhere and everywhere, that doesn't mean you should.

(2) While it's easier to cheat at any given thing with technology, it is also easier to get caught at any given thing. Any given thing.

(3) Bragging about your latest technological purchase will be viable for all of 24 hours, until the latest technological advance comes out that makes yours look useless and obsolete.

computer, keyboard, technology, confusion
I'm sure this button would help a lot...
Image from user:Ladyheart

(4) Waiting in line for a week to get the latest gadget released by an over-hyping, multi-national company, shows an amazing amount of dedication that should maybe be put into other, more valid areas of your life.

(5) In this day and age, you will probably get away with owning old, out-of-date technology simply by calling it "retro".

I hope this helps!
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Your Comment
I completely agree with you about mobile phones and social media.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12490) 2187 days ago
Congratulations on 1st place!
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12490) 2160 days ago
I don't think mobile phones need to be off necessarily, but certainly on silent, eg. in a pocket on vibrate. I have small children and, for example, if I'm going out to dinner with other Mums we all have our phones on the table and are fine with that because we want to know if there is some sort of emergency. I think it just requires a different kind of social pact to deal with the new technology.
by Rebecca Bowyer (score: 2|231) 2181 days ago
Let's get something straight here. People line up to get the latest gadget from Apple or whoever because it is FUN. It is a social occasion and they find it exciting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Fun was what we were allowed to have before the nanny state and anti fun squad took over. Those people know darn well that they can buy the gadget any time in the next year. I wouldn't do it because I don't like queuing, but I have nothing against those who do.They are not stupid and they are not brainwashed automatons. I am old enough to remember when there were lines going down Hindley Street and around the corner to get in to see the latest movie at the Metro. Way back then people found lining up for the latest thing exciting.
by rhysm (score: 1|46) 2180 days ago
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