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The Decline of Common Courtesy

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

― Mark Twain

This is going to be a bit of a rant but I don’t know what to think anymore. I think as humans; we have devolved. I try to remain positive as much as possible because I know how my negativity has affected my life.

But I don’t understand a lot of people anymore. Many of us are so charged with emotion we can’t see past anything that’s not right in front of us. And I’m not even talking about politics or the myriad of other issues we face today. We are all pissed off about stuff that doesn’t matter — and it leads us to lose our sense of decency towards each other.

We have lost common courtesy.

The part which stands out in the above definitions are “known to the community” and “respect for others”.

We all know what common means. But we’ve forgotten what it means to be courteous. To have respect for others. It seems we don’t give a shit about how others feel anymore. We don’t care when our words or actions hurt someone else. Being “right” is more important than being courteous.

How did we get here?

Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s the increase in technology, maybe it’s because we are just plain horrible as a species. Maybe it is because we are all completely stressed out and generally unhappy. I don’t claim to know.

The political and social issues we face aren’t going to be changed overnight. But I do know we can start to change as individuals. We can all be a little more courteous to each other despite what is going on in the world.

And it’s simple.

common courtesy
Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

Common courtesy includes things like saying “please” and “thank you.”

It includes listening instead of interrupting.

It means having patience — not only with everyone else but with yourself too.

Common courtesy means holding doors, saying hi, and smiling at others.

It means to recognize you aren’t the only person who exists in this world.

It means that when you are in a bad mood, that mood shouldn’t dictate your manners or how you treat others.

Common courtesy means respecting people in retail and who wait on you at restaurants and other establishments.

It means recognizing I am not in YOUR hurry. And you shouldn’t be in mine.

It includes letting others live their life while you live yours.

It means not making fun of others when they are “different” from you.

Common courtesy means going somewhere else to talk on your cell phone because not everyone wants to hear you discuss how little Tommy is the best child ever. 

It means understanding we all have problems — and sometimes giving the benefit of the doubt is the best course of action.

It means being polite. It means being nice. It means not being an asshole.

I understand there are times when being courteous is not the correct response. Sometimes we need to speak up and fight for things we believe in.

But the everyday interactions between each other don’t need to be filled with anger and hate. It takes nothing to be a little more kind to everyone — to be a little more courteous.

Because when you are upset all the time, you are only wasting your energy. And it will leave you bitter and resentful. I know this because that was me not too long ago. I was pissed off all the time, and it ate me alive inside. I paid the price for it too. So did those around me.

So the next time you find yourself getting upset over something trivial, maybe try a little courtesy instead. The world could use it right now.

My Ko-fi button


  1. AJ AJ

    Boy do I know what you are talking about! I just looked up the definition of common courtesy on Google and your blog came up. A few times in the last week I encountered disrespect from strangers. Once was sitting on a train when a man bumped me and did not say excuse me. One day I was holding the door for an elderly lady and a young woman came through from the opposite side before the elder could go through, she didn’t say excuse me to the elder or thank you to me for holding the door. And last but not least an old man about 80 walking with his wife spit at me because I was by the curb smoking a cigarette. I deliberately stood by the curb so I would not be in the middle of the sidewalk and while there was plenty of room for him to not be affected by my smoke he came over and spat at me.

    • It’s quite sad. I think we have become less tolerant of everyone and everything. It really is easy to be kind to others if we were to just practice it more. Thanks for reading.

      • Jess Jess

        This used it bug me a lot, especially when I was courteous and someone was rude to me, until I learned to stop expecting it from other people. You can’t control other’s behaviour. Thinking people should act in a certain way because “We should be courteous” or “I was nice by holding the door and they don’t even say thank you?!” Is kindness a better to be? Is treating each other with decency despite our differences something we should try our best to strive for? Absolutely. But actions still depends on the individual. Common courtesy should be a staple in society but feeling entitled to it only gives way to feelings of resentment when people don’t act accordingly.

        Now I actually appreciate it way more when people ARE courteous.

  2. maggs maggs

    common courtesy….
    the long forgotten fabric.
    thank you kindly..
    if you please..
    have often thought about how broken a society in the loss of this common ground that recognizes we are all one.
    the basis….without this, all else fails.
    refreshing to see your blog and recognition of how crucial the alliance is to a people as a whole.
    totally get it.
    much appreciated.

  3. Tyler J. Tyler J.

    I don’t believe that I have ever read anything that matches my exact train of thought more than this article.

    I have, practically verbatim, spoken all of the above in various attempts of deescalating another’s anger/stresses/depressions.

    With that said, it is so comforting & reassuring that there are other’s out there that still care about the wellbeing of & unconditional compassion for humanity.

    Much love,
    Tyler “Blue Jay”

  4. Kristy Horne Kristy Horne

    I just love this article it has hit a spot with me…it really did. Thank you for writing it Jeff and its a real bug bear of mine, being courteous and kind and the lack of it. I see it so much in my work, the community…it makes me so mad.

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