In preparing to write this post, I just did some keyword research on Google for the word “etiquette”. The graph below is what I found. But I have to wonder, even though interest in etiquette has decreased, is etiquette no longer relevant in today’s culture?
What got me thinking about this question are a few experiences I’ve had recently in my own life. Over the past few months I have hosted different events in my home. A few for my direct sales business and one for our baby girl’s first birthday party. I’ve sent out invitations – some my snail mail, some as a Facebook event, some in private messages, and some through Evite. Not only do my invitations tell my potential guests the details of the event, but they also help me plan how much food to prepare, what favors to give out, and who I can expect.
The shocking part is the number of people who didn’t respond. The invitations said “Please RSVP” but the majority of people didn’t. And this included my “real friends”, too. You know, the friends you see in-real-life on a regular basis. In fact, there were a few people who I saw in person, and they never even mentioned receiving the invitation.
I realize that not everyone can come to an event I’m hosting, and I’m aware that some may not even want to come. That doesn’t hurt my feelings. What hurts my feelings is the lack of consideration. Consideration to let me know so that I can prepare and consideration to thank me for inviting them.
Now granted, I am a born and bred Atlanta southerner. My mom bought me Emily Post’s big book called Etiquette when I was probably about 12 years old. I have read that book cover to cover, and I actually enjoyed it. My mom was also a stickler on writing thank you notes. Every year after Christmas I sat at the kitchen table and wrote thank you notes to everyone who gave me a gift. That’s just what we did in the south.
I understand that not everyone has the same fervor for invitation etiquette that I do, but is it really about etiquette at all? Or is there more to it?
I don’t think many will disagree that our culture is becoming increasingly self-consumed. We are in the middle of so much hustle and bustle that we forget about the people in our peripheral vision. We look out for our own interests, our own time, our own needs. Then our community of friends diminishes and we wonder why we feel so isolated. I’m guilty of this too.
But our evolving culture is not an excuse.
The Bible tells us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Etiquette is relevant because the Bible is relevant.
We find time to reply to invitations and call people back and respond to text messages and write emails because we consider others greater than ourselves. We love others more than ourselves. And we care about their feelings.
So let’s take an etiquette challenge. Respond to people who reach out to you. Whether it be by phone call, text, snail mail, Facebook message, or email, just send a quick note acknowledging the person’s thoughts of you. If you can’t respond immediately, consider putting an automatic response on your email. Or text back quickly and say “I’ll respond soon”.
Do you think etiquette is no longer relevant in today’s culture?