Are Southern manners slipping? Last week the New York Times reported that gentility is no longer the norm, particularly in big cities like Atlanta (my hometown) where increasing numbers of newcomers from other parts of the country are settling, making the South the fastest-growing region in the nation.
But don’t go blaming the Yankees too much. Researchers also credit economic instability, a heated political climate, and the rise of online communication as factors in the demise of Southern hospitality. When money’s tight, it may be harder to lend a hand to someone in need. Or, as you increasingly spend more and more of your time connecting online on Facebook and Twitter, you engage less in face-to-face relationships. Life is more fast-paced, and there is less time for good manners and social graces.
As an advocate of civility, I obviously find this news disheartening. Good manners have long been part of our Southern charm, and it’s a tradition that should be upheld no matter how busy we are. Why not invite a friend or neighbor over for dinner this week? Or how about bringing in donuts for the office, or a latte for a co-worker? If you and your family have begun to settle for fast food meals in front of the TV, try making a home-cooked meal which you can enjoy together with no distractions. This is also a good opportunity to teach your children about good manners … the next generation should carry on the tradition of Southern hospitality!