Buzzfeed's "Whatever Happened To These 6 Polite Gestures?" was all over Facebook recently. It prompted all kinds of nostalgia for things like thank you notes--as if climate change would end when people bought stationary and picked up pens again.
I send email thank you notes, and if I'm really grateful, send them via Jacquie Lawson who does awesome animated cards. They're more beautiful than anything I could buy, and my handwriting has always been atrocious anyway. It's worse now that I've had reconstructive surgery on my right hand. Trust me, you don't want a thank you note from me. You will not be grateful.
I get email thanks all the time and they're fine with me, not that I don't enjoy a written one, but they don't affect my life in any substantial way. I don't see emailing thanks as impolite in the least. Frankly, most people don't even bother to do that.
As for the other items on the Buzzfeed list: do people really not hold doors open anymore? I see the opposite all the time. And do they not make eye contact when they talk? Maybe if they're shy. And how many folks start to eat before everyone is served at a table? Maybe if they were raised by wolves. The whole thing struck me as just more Buzzfeed click bait.
The politeness that would make a real difference in my life, and I suspect a lot of people's, wouldn't come via the USPS or through the other Buzzfeed suggestions. It would be on the road.
What do I mean? The art of signalling when you change lanes seems to be drying up like water in California, whether on the highway or on local roads. People just veer back and forth across lanes without warning all the time as if their cars weren't equipped with turns signals. If more people signalled lane changed, that wouldn't just be a question of politeness, it would increase safety and decrease road rage. Likewise, using turn lanes correctly and using the left lane for passing as opposed to dawdling on the highway would be a blessing to drivers everywhere, especially anyone in a hurry.
But I guess everyone's too busy texting now to pay attention to whatever else is going on outside their cars.
Have a nice day!
Lev Raphael is the author of the erotic novella The Vampyre of Gotham and 24 other books in genres from memoir to mystery.