Class distinction

As incivility pervades society, course teaches youths the value of manners

In the latest Internet "brawl" video, a bikini-clad woman upset with the service at a Florida Burger King jumps on the restaurant counter and proceeds to batter workers and topple whatever she gets her hands on.

Sadly, our barefoot contessa is representative of a growing class of the classless.

In a country in which "aggrieved" customers feel free to assault workers and destroy property, it seems hopelessly quaint to hope for a return to manners and etiquette. But those of us who long for a more civil society can't allow ourselves to give up.

It used to be that the oafish among us were termed "ill-bred" -- a decidedly pejorative term that appealed to shame and traced boorishness back to its fount: the home.

There is no such accountability today, and no shame to speak of, and so it is left to society to deal with.

One way to deal with loutish behavior is to ignore it. Another is to reward it. Occasionally, one is fortunate enough to be in a position to punish it (our bathing beauty with the beastly side is now facing a felony charge).

Yet another way is to nip it in the bud.

This is the mission of Social Inc., a local organization featured in a recent Chronicle story, which since the 1970s has revived the teaching of the social graces to area youth.

Such things, including the annual "spring formal" cotillion at James Brown Arena, may seem anachronistic or "old South" -- but here's hoping good manners and etiquette are never out of fashion.

We can tell the students this much: You may or may not like "taking social," and your peers may sneer -- but you'll sure have a leg up on the competition in the job market. In the dating scene, too.

It can't help but bolster these youths' confidence, either.

How else are kids supposed to learn the intricacies of a civilized, cultured life? By osmosis? Certainly not by throwing them onto Facebook.

Give us the old-time social networking any day.

And for anyone who thinks the dancing part of Social is hokey or unmanly -- try telling that to Jerry Rice and Hines Ward, two National Football League standouts who've hoofed it on Dancing With the Stars.

With all the coarseness and vulgarity out there today, it makes sense to arm our youth for the battle over civility. Organizations such as Social Inc. may be our Alamo.

Kids learn traditional etiquette at Social Inc.

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Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:04

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