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Manners in the age of Twitter … Yes, we can have them

Taking a page from our Insights section, I noticed a story coming about an April 21 Victorian tea event sponsored by the Bay Village Historical Society, and checked my reaction about halfway through.

It is entirely wonderful that the society puts on the event and that the education provided allowed a glimpse into manners pre-digital age.

But I wondered about a comment made by Carole Roske, president of the historical society.

“In this day and age of cellphones, iPods, text messaging and e-mails, the tea gives everyone a chance to reflect back to a more simple way of communication, and teaches young children how to act and exhibit good manners,” Roske said. “Little girls experience a chance to really dress up and become little ladies in a social environment with adults. The tea is also a wonderful bonding experience filled with memories of attending with their mothers and grandmothers.”

That is fantastic, and is something the likes of which I would enjoy getting my two daughters involved with. But I wonder how much of an emphasis we put on looking back without acknowledging we need to look forward. We are just so stuck living in the present. Maybe we need to be OK with that.

The April 21 luncheon included “elegant tea sandwiches, dainty desserts and pots of tea served in real china cups,” and ”guests paraded through Dwyer Memorial Senior Center for the judging of the hat contest.”

The modernized event would be a group of kids wearing hoodies hanging out somewhere with Wi-Fi, each with digital messaging devices, trying to figure out a message to fit within 140 characters.

Tea and cakes were then. This is now. How do we teach the now, acknowledging in some ways our children know more about it than we do? We can be nostalgic for the rustic farm environments portrayed in paintings, but what do we remember about everything else that went with that imagery. Manure, anyone?

So as much as some might want to revolt against a future built around Twitter’s #hashtags, for every time someone tweets, “Feeling the #roadrage #Makemyday,” more people need to get involved to create the environment that conveys the message, “Saw someone feeling #depressed. Just went over and #madetheirday.”

Let me say I have little problem with people using their computing devices at a table with me. People used to sit among each other only occasionally looking over the tops of their newspapers, magazines or books. Our media are changing, but instead of expecting tea and crumpets, we as adults should dive into the technology and familiarize ourselves with the new atmosphere and help be responsible for the manners that develop.

Our kids are getting into it and, to their credit, many of them are working just fine in the new social environment. They could teach us a thing or two. More to the point, we should all act together.

For my part, and with my mother an active employee with the Oberlin Heritage Center, I come bred with an appreciation of the environment espoused by the tea event in Bay Village. That my daughters have worn homemade dresses is special.

But no less special to me is the fact that my oldest can float among mobile and desktop operating systems, working touchscreens and a mouse (archaic thing that it is now) interchangeably. I can’t sew a stitch to#savemysoul, but you bet I’ll be there to watch and learn with her as she earns her first G+.

 

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