Are Southern Manners on the Decline?

For those of you living in the South, would you agree that the Southern charm is fading? Today’s piece in The New York Times asserts so:

The Tavern at Phipps case, and a growing portfolio of examples of personal and political behavior that belies a traditional code of gentility, has scholars of Southern culture and Southerners themselves wondering if civility in the south is dead, or at least wounded.

But what is the reason for the decline in Southern manners?

Newcomers still get much of the blame. In the past decade the South has seen an unprecedented influx of immigrants from both other states and other countries. The population in the south grew by 14.3 percent from 2000 to 2010, making it the fastest growing region in the country.

But there is more behind the social shift, scholars say. Digital communication and globalization have conspired to make many parts of the South less insular. Couple that with a political climate as contentious as anyone can remember and a wave of economic insecurity rolling across the region, and you’ve got a situation where saying “thank you, ma’am” isn’t good enough anymore.

Anecdotally speaking, I would agree (living in Atlanta) that living in the South is less about “Yes, sir” and “Thank you, ma’am” than it used to be. However, since there is no stringent way to test this assertion, your experience will probably vary.

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