Did We Forget About “Dear Abby”?

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One of the monthly articles in my favorite magazine answers etiquette questions. I always love to read them and wonder what the person did while they waited for the response in the magazine. Did they confront the mother-in-law who criticized their cooking? Did they send the thank-you note to the uncle who only gave an envelope of cash for the wedding? Since I am not shy about addressing things when they bother me, it always fascinates me. I do like to learn the right answer to address these issues, for future reference. I want to “mind my manners” as the old saying goes. One example: should the same fork be used for appetizers AND your salad or should you get a clean one? I still don’t know the answer so if anyone can tell me, great.

Emily Post was the original on answering etiquette questions back in early 1900’s. Then came Abigail Van Buren. “Dear Abby” was a pseudonym for a woman and her daughter. Readers posed question to them about etiquette in a magazine (the name of which escapes me now).

Fast forward to today. We go through a contentious and disheartening election. It was tough whether your candidate won or lost. We all lost. What did we lose most of all? Our manners. What was formally only done by anonymous trolls sitting behind a screen became the norm.

The election became dirty between those who were running. We all stepped in the mud when it came to how we talked to people about the election and “our” candidate. Everyone forgot their manners.

And no one can get away from it. Even now, five months post election. Everyday we are hit with news of this issue or that investigation. I saw a Facebook post between some folks from my high school a couple of days ago. They wrote some pretty insensitive things, all in the name of political views. I find myself poised above my keyboard daily wanting to respond to folks as well. “I know they are backwards in their thinking.” “I should tell them they are not educated enough on issues they are commenting about.” Isn’t this what we are all thinking every day?

Then I stop and think what Dear Abby would do.

I have a feeling it might be a reminder we all have forgotten. Never speak about money, politics or religion. This usually applied to dinner parties but I would like to say, let’s apply it to social media instead. I might also suggest you have these conversations in person, maybe at that aforementioned dinner party. There are strong feelings about politics on all sides. Try to listen and learn. When I have tried this approach I have learned why someone feels they way they do. I still may not agree with them, but we have a conversation. This makes for a much more productive conversation.
Most importantly though I try to mind my manners, always.

About Katee V.H.

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