Southern Manners Too Often Left Behind

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When we think of the South, we think of cowboys, the word “y’all,” and good ole Southern manners. For example, men open doors for ladies and let them cut in line, and children are taught to say, “Yes ma’am” or, “Yes sir” instead of, “Yeah” to adults. Children are taught to keep their football allegiances true and their roots grounded; where they come from is what makes them who they are.

This is something that has been a part of the Southern way of life for as long as we can remember.

Nowadays, we’ve seen a gradual decline in manners and etiquette, and by golly we think that needs some fixin’!

Ironically, technology can make people less connected to one another because they are so focused on sending out that one last text message instead of noticing the people around them. The huge amount of work and stress that can accumulate over the week can also put one in a grumpy, unfriendly mood, making a simple, kind action too much of an effort.

This needs to change–or rather, go back to the way it used to be.

People hurry past others in a race against time, and friendliness between strangers has become a thing of the past. A crude gesture has replaced the kind wave at a stop sign.

Banter between strangers is more than uncomfortable now. When did this happen? Being raised in Southern homes, we both are used to striking up a conversation almost anywhere. Now, awkward silences fill the void.

Y’all should see some of the strange looks we get when we try and open our mouths to greet someone we do not know.

Very rarely do we see smiles on the faces of passersby. Very rarely do we see a man give up his seat for a woman who is standing. Now, we are not saying that every man should jump up out of his seat and offer a lady a chance to sit her tired tookus, but if you are able to stand, stand up. Especially if the lady is pregnant! Never make a pregnant lady stand on her swollen ankles longer than she has to. You laugh but we have seen this on numerous occasions.

How about holding doors open for one another? On numerous occasions, we have both been walking into a building and have almost walked straight into the door because we thought the person in front of us was holding it open. Embarrassing for both parties, injurious for one.

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We both hold doors open for people: adults, kids, and elderly folks. It is just the polite thing to do.

Manners used to be important. One of us even spent several years in white glove etiquette courses. How many of y’all even know which way to set the table? Or which fork to use first, or how not to pull your cell phone out and place it on the table at dinner. Do any of you actually know the distinction between dinner and supper?

We are sure most Southern fathers and mothers anxiously await the day that their daughter’s boyfriend will ask permission to marry their “little girl.” That’s on the decline too.

Nowadays girls go home with a surprise ring on their hands. So not cool.

For you Northerners who are shaking your heads in disbelief, jump on the bandwagon. Manners are not overrated; they are important. Good manners are something that the ole Southern states pride themselves on.

So where has it gone? We refuse to change our ways.

Southern by the grace of God, right?

Co-written by Samantha Verrill. Originally published on March 3, 2010 in The Daily Campus.



  1. Here here!!! Manners are so important and I totally agree that they have disappeared from our society. On the train the other day it took several minutes and many dirty looks for someone to give up their seat for an elderly couple. The woman even had an eyepatch on and was very unstable!!! I was already standing, but was pretty gobsmacked by the whole incident. My father always told me to ‘Mind my P’s and Q’s’ (as in please and thank you)…and I never forget it! Kindness and manners need to be maintained 🙂

    1. I figured some people are too absorbed in their own lives to really notice others which is rather sad, but the norm these days. If girls keep their standards high maybe we can bring back the chivalry!

      1. I sure hope so…chivalry is not dead in my books

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