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December 17, 2009

New Year, New Manners

Rudeness ruled in 2009. (Yes, we're looking at you, Kanye!) This year, let's add some good old-fashioned civility to that to-do list.

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Not to be rude, but as a nation, our manners stink. From that moron yelling "You lie!" at the president to Kanye West's MTV microphone-grab to all those barking town-hall buffoons, incivility reigned supreme in 2009. It's time to wrap up the offending year, tie on a pretty bow, and send it on its way.

Listen, I don't claim to be Miss Manners. I take forever to return phone messages. I'm the queen of calling to say I'm running late, often very late. (At least I call!) And if loudly interrupting were considered a performing art, I'd be a shoo-in for a Kennedy Center lifetime achievement award. But that's the point.

Who among us couldn't stand to behave better in the coming year? (Ahem, Serena.) So how about we all tuck in a New Year's resolution somewhere between "lose 10 pounds" and "clean under the bed": "Be more civil." Stop shouting on our cell phones. Say "excuse me" the way our mothers always hoped we would. Just for the greater karmic good.

That means you, manicured lady on the New York City subway last week, hogging an extra seat for your shopping bag, while old people were stuck standing and stumbling with every brake screech. And you, men seated on either side of me at that fancy dinner party, texting away—beady eyes glued to teeny screens, thumbs in a blur--the whole time. Had I pulled a Hugh Jackman, halting the event to publicly chastise them (as he did onstage when someone's cell phone rang), would I have been even ruder than they? Discuss!

Lizzie Post, spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute, attributes the civility crisis to economic stress and to the cell phones, BlackBerries, and iPods that have created new ways to be rude. But that's no excuse. Just treat people decently, Post suggests, and maybe they'll do the same in return.

Are you in?


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