Fixing Gen Z’s Etiquette Problem

With every passing year, fewer and fewer young people are observing the basic rules of etiquette—a trend up with which we simply cannot put. So immersed are the youth in bucket hats and Harold Styles that they have forgotten even the most simple gestures of politeness. Here are a few that it might behoove them to learn.

It is polite to chew with one’s mouth closed and one’s eyes wide open, and to never put one’s elbows on the dinner table.

Remember the names of acquaintances as a basic measure of courtesy. If you forget someone’s name, ask them an unobtrusive question to figure it out, such as “Can I buy a vowel, buddy?”

Don’t forget to bless sneezes. The correct order of blessings is as follows: “Bless you,” and then, “Gesundheit,” “Salud,” “Bless up,” “Follow your bless,” and, finally, “You do you, jabroni.” For all sneezes after six, it is proper to clamp the sneezer’s nostrils with a clothespin.

You must never appear empty-handed at a party, a soirée, or even a shindig. In the event of empty-handedness, be sure to avoid a faux pas by filling your fists with debris found in the vicinity, such as soil, pebbles, or the welcome mat.

When you see a motorcyclist, it is imperative to say “Nice bike, m’lady” and then dance a small—not large—jig on top of the sidecar. (If the motorcycle doesn’t have a sidecar, it is always appropriate to hail a miniature taxicab that can ride alongside the motorbike.)

Many people know that saying “Please,” “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome” are important elements of politeness. In certain situations, however, alternate phrases are preferred. When placing your order at a drive-through restaurant, for example, it is polite to play Baroque or classical music from your car and kiss the server’s hand. Then, of course, say, “My compliments to Wendy, Her Majesty of New Jersey.”

When someone is sick or injured, the rules of etiquette help to protect them during a vulnerable time. Avoid phrases such as “Karma’s a relentless mistress, ain’t she?” which is considered rude, even if the person in question is a sworn enemy. Remember, you are there to comfort the sufferer, not to relish schadenfreude, no matter how delicious.

Animals are polite, and we owe it to them to be polite in return. If you encounter a raccoon, for example, the courteous greeting is a firm pat on its rump and an exclamation of “Clever little bandit, clever little bandit, feast on my garbage, clever little bandit!” This custom appears to be going by the wayside, but perhaps Gen Z can resurrect it, if it’s not too lazy.

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