Is chivalry dead? Does anyone actually care how many spoons you use for an eight-course meal? Manners have existed in some form or fashion since the beginning of human communication from the proper tone of a word-like grunt to the elaborate dining set-up of Victorian dinner parties. The evolution of manners through the years is undoubtedly fascinating but is so often disregarded when observing the etiquette and mannerisms of the modern, technological era. People of all ages and genders are capable of interacting politely, regardless of the changes to the definition of the word “polite”.
Age is not a disqualifier of socially-acceptable manners, although it can alter the definition. Take, for instance, a modern millennial couple. It is safe to assume this pair of 20-year-olds did not meet each other in person since dating apps have become as commonplace as they are, but that does not disqualify them from engaging in proper, modern date etiquette. Either of the two partners holds the door, pays (if they decide against splitting the check) and takes the other home afterward. They utilize proper eye contact rules, keep up a conversation and read the other’s social cues and body language to determine how well the date is going. They say “please,” “thank you” and “no problem” like any well-mannered young person would today.
On the same note, gender-based manners have changed significantly over the years. At one point in history, it was frowned upon for the girl in your traditional, heterosexual relationship to pay for dinner, and if the boy neglected to open every single door for his date, he wasn’t worth dating. This toxic expression of gender roles under the ruse of “proper etiquette” has lessened significantly as time progresses and has evolved into a more neutral, natural order of things. Any given individual is expected to hold the door for any other person, regardless of gender, and couples often split checks on dates or take turns paying. In my opinion, manners and the role they play in society have evened out significantly between genders.
It is safe to say that manners are still relevant in society. Simple actions like holding the door and tipping waitstaff help to make our civilization a happier, kinder one, regardless of gender, age or any other descriptors. Hopefully, the evolution of human interaction will continue to evolve for the better, resulting in a more socially-conscious and interactive society.