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Gen X-ers seem to lack common courtesy

September 25, 2002|by LAURA VOGEL

My generation deserves two thumbs down when it comes to proper etiquette and common courtesy. This is one of the most disappointing facts that I have learned about my age group to date - particularly during the planning of my wedding. While I hesitate to make negative generalizations about an entire generation - especially one that I belong to - I assure you that I have very good reason to feel this way.

Regarding the wedding: Of the people who sent us an RSVP card with more people listed on it than were invited, of the people who cancelled at the last minute, and of the people who are still only offering a noncommittal "maybe"- most of them are twenty-something.

Of the people who still have yet to send in an R.S.V.P. card at all (three days prior to the wedding) - all are twenty-something. Of the people who did not attend my shower, the ones who did not send at least a card in their place were twenty-something. Of the people who have called, asking for special seating requests during our ceremony or reception, all but one were twenty-something.

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A friend of mine was married last fall and I still have not received a thank you note from her and her new husband for my gift.

A friend and her boyfriend recently came to visit from out of town. They had never seen our new home and were well taken care of while they stayed with us, but they came empty-handed and did not send a thank you note.

Where did my generation go wrong? Why can't we get it together enough to send a note or at least make a phone call? I am almost always sympathetic to the plight of my own generation, but in this case I have only three words to say - shame on us.

Perhaps it is that the technology which exists in our world allows us to be more disconnected from each other. We don't relate to one another anymore because we rarely find ourselves in situations where it is necessary. We don't really have to talk to each other anymore and our social couth reflects that.

Why send a note when you can send an e-mail? Why go into a store and speak to a real live person when you can order anything you might need online? With all of the modern day conveniences that exist today, we no longer have to be inconvenienced - even when we ought to be.

Most people associate "going the extra mile" with spending extra money and time that they don't have, when in reality the most effective touches of class don't require either. A simple handwritten note - a plainly stated "thanks for dinner" - has become an anomaly among Generation Xers. It is the most thoughtful of gestures, not to mention one of the most inexpensive. And as far as time management is concerned, we've somehow convinced ourselves that we honestly don't have five minutes to spend making someone else happy. But we do. Somewhere along the line we forgot that there is always five minutes left in the day to do the right thing.

I charge my fellow twenty-somethings to break the mold. Step away from your computers and pick up a pen. When was the last time someone did something nice for you? Has someone you know recently had a success in their life that deserves recognition? Why haven't they heard from you yet?

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