Etiquette: Alive and Well

Etiquette, by no means, is a dying art. In fact, as evidenced by the New York Times's Social Q's column, it is alive and well. Just as our daily interactions have found themselves subjected to digital scrutiny, so too have we come to face a new environment for the pervasive social rules that we call etiquette.

It may be perceived as common knowledge that our culture holds an irreverence for etiquette. But our own experiences as users of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms of social media have proven this perception to be unfounded.

Believe it or not, our generation's use of social media is governed by a set of implicit rules of etiquette. While there many not be a definitive book on the topic, one can ask any adolescent to enumerate the "Dos and Don'ts" of our new online world.

In recent months, the world saw this burgeoning dialectic on etiquette manifest itself in a controversy surrounding the #LetsMakeitAwkward campaign on Twitter. For those of you who might be scratching your heads, this was a trending topic encouraging young people to embarrass their peers by reminding them of failed relationships and tabooed behavior. Many teenagers, like us, were appalled by this violation of our accepted rules of thumb.

With every tweet added to the Twittersphere, our society's rules of etiquette are evolving. Sure, it is important that we continue to hold doors for the people behind us and send out thank-you cards. Contrary to common thought, these social conventions are still regularly implemented by young men and women around the country.

Change does not necessarily mean that tradition has been rendered obsolete. Instead, we are at the nexus of where the old is converging with the new. Teens are confronted with the unique problem of having to learn just how to incorporate their parents' advice into their new milieu.

This article might be read on the iPad edition of the New York Times by one of our peers, in place of reading it off of the paper. This does not imply, as some readers like to posit, that our generation has a lesser desire to stay current on the news. When we tell adults that we glean most of our news from online platforms, we are always surprised by the look of disdain on their faces. This is not a lesser degree of gathering information. For this reason, it should not be any less socially acceptable.

As the world is more intimately connected, our generation's digitization should not be berated by columnists as cover for laziness. When we make online birthday cards, our innovative implementation of timeless niceties should be lauded instead of pilloried.

But, then again, demanding such treatment would be impolite, correct?