What's happened to our manners?
Even if we discount the disregard for exposing everybody else to a personal cellphone conversation or even knowing that the fork goes on the left at a table setting, the issue here is more about common courtesy.
It seems to be even more of an issue this time of year when it comes to public behavior during graduation ceremonies. Whether it's how to act or what to wear, what's happened to us?
Whenever large crowds gather, there's always a possibility that small groups can spoil things for the rest. All families and all friends are rightfully proud of graduates and their accomplishments.
When did it become acceptable to demonstrate that pride with whoops, hollers and horns when somebody with your last name is mentioned on the public address system?
A recent higher-education commencement exercise became a learning experience in just where we are in the areas of decorum and kindness.
When did attending such a ceremony mean remembering to bring the air horn?
Why do people not take their hats off inside?
When getting dressed to attend such an occasion where education and dedication to study are applauded, why would grown men wear shorts and deck shoes?
Pointing some of this out is not done to make anybody feel inferior or inadequate.
But some of this seems to go beyond knowing proper protocol, it's just knowing how to act — or how not to.
Some behaviorists think our social media is to blame. Facebook and Twitter seem to play into the “it's all about me” syndrome. Everybody's so caught up in making sure they are being seen and heard that no attention is given to the fact that somebody else might be talking.
Every single graduate has friends and family who are proud of that accomplishment. Unfortunately, those who yell the loudest seem to believe that means they are the proudest.
All it really signals is that they don't care about the next graduate whose family and friends might not even get to hear their name called.
Living in the South once meant we had certain behavior instilled, if not installed, into our DNA. Living in Charleston has often been equated with a natural politeness that was recognized from a distance. Are we losing that?
Granted, sometimes social groups vary and different norms might apply depending upon the environment.
But being civil and showing kindness should never be the inappropriate option.
Most of the colleges and universities have held their commencement exercises this year. High schools are next. People are going to do what they want to in most cases. Will this small protest of protocol make any difference? Maybe, maybe not. But if we don't at least draw attention to it and agree that it doesn't show us in the most flattering light, it'll only get worse.
Self-centered rudeness knows no bounds. It comes in all shapes and sizes. We're all reluctant to speak out because, well, that would be rude.
If there's a graduation ceremony on your calendar in the coming days, here's hoping the guy wearing a hat, shorts and deck shoes sitting close by brings an air horn that malfunctions.
I'm just sayin'.