Augusta, GA -
First impressions: there was a time when people cared about making a good one. A time when good manners were a sign of character and respect for others.
Some say we've become a crude society as grown women get into catfights on reality tv shows, and Miley Cyrus works to crush Hannah Montana... with a twerk.
How about this? A fast food drive-thru window where the cashier says nothing... they just hold out their hand for payment, hand you a bag, and don't even say "thank you."
One popular chain is addressing that, as you're about to see.
But when it comes to rude, is anything worse than social media?
In the real world, conversation is a two-way street, but on social media it's a one-way street.
You've seen it on Facebook: people say anything, they vent, they bully- and then wait to see how many others "like" their status.
"The ability to put a message out there and not have a consequence behind it. And the consequence now is, 'Ok if I don't like what you say I'll just delete you.' That lack of authentic human connection gets in the way of everyday interaction between people."
Dr. Lashawnda Lindsay-Dennis is an Educational Psychologist at Paine College. She believes this shift in socialization contributes to the overall decline in the way we treat each other:
"In years past there were very specific things you had to learn-- to be kind, to be caring, to help other people, that our elders should be respected. Now the message is about individuality... what's best for me?"
It's the "focus on others" that's at the heart of civility.
"Manners are to help you connect with people."
Jane Howington knows all about etiquette. She started teaching the Perfectly Social course, through Social, Inc. about 20 years ago.
"It's simple, you like people to be nice to you, you be nice to them. You don't like to be sitting at a table where someone is chewing with their mouth open, you don't like someone to not know how to say hello to you when they see you, so this is what we're going to teach you to do."
Perfectly Social is still offered today: 6-th graders learn to write thank you notes, how to shake hands and greet people, and table manners. The class ends with this five-course dinner at Augusta Country Club, where social graces are put to the test!
Treating people with respect, using nice manners... those behaviors are at the core of Truett Cathy's little chicken chain, you know the one: Chick-fil-A.
Jennie: "Thank you!" Cashier: "It's my pleasure." Jennie: "How many times do you get service like that at a drive-thru?"
Store owner Kenny Hanna says Cathy's philosophy is to treat customers with "honor, dignity and respect," going so far as to take a cue from the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, implementing "It's my pleasure," at the end of every transaction.
"We've done it, it's taken off and people really enjoy it. And we really mean it, too. It's our pleasure to serve people."
Hanna says he loves having the opportunity to work with teenagers and teach them how to serve others.
"When I hire people I tell them, don't look at those people, our customers, as just another transaction- look at it as an opportunity to server them."
According to Dr. Dennis, it's crucial to encourage your teens by building them up when they exhibit traits you like, and don't harp on the negatives.
"A lot of time we as adults focus on the bad behavior and things we don't want our youth to do, and don't necessarily praise them for the things that they do well."
If parents don't build a child's self-worth, they look for validation in other places.
"It seems like we are becoming more of a narcissistic society in terms of our focus on ME, what I want, what I feel."
She thinks a lot of that comes from the influx of self-absorbed reality tv shows. And that can create the wrong message for girls, who learn to identify with a one-dimensional focus on women.
"You can be Beyonce, you can be Miley Cyrus or Rhianna whereas there's no counter-balance to that in terms of media."
Dr. Dennis says parents need to talk with their kids about behaviors they observe, and how it conflicts with what's right for them and their value system.
Dr. Dennis sponsors a summer program at Paine College called Project PUSH, where young girls are mentored by college students. She encourages them to think about the different messages they get from society and realize those messages don't define their sense of self.