Canada has long been known for its reputation as a polite and friendly nation, with citizens embracing values of kindness, respect, and good manners. However, there is growing concern that these traditional Canadian traits are slowly disappearing in certain contexts. In this article, we explore the factors contributing to the erosion of Canadian friendly manners and examine the potential influence of stress and immigration on this cultural shift.
While we see the changes in Canada, what are the causes of this shift towards forgetting the basic politeness, why is “please” and “thank you” perceived as not important any longer? Can this trend be reversed and how to do it? We might only scratch the surface here, yet, it is important to talk about it and at the same time why is it important to continue being old fashioned Canadian, EH!
Changing Societal Dynamics
As Canadian society evolves, various factors contribute to shifting social dynamics and a decline in friendly manners. Increased urbanization, fast-paced lifestyles, and the pressures of modern life can create a more hurried and impersonal environment. This can lead to a decrease in everyday acts of courtesy and genuine social interactions. On daily basis, there are less “everyone knows everyone” communities, big cities are evolving in Canada! If we take Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area for instance and compare it what it was only 20 years ago and what it is now, the difference is enormous. Population in Southern Ontario has exploded in the past 20 years, condominium buildings have changed the entire landscape, highways turned into parking lots and shopping centres are turned into mass population festival like body to body experience. Some might say, this is exaggeration, well, most of us are already so used to the big crowd, long waiting times and high traffic that we start to think this is normal and it is everywhere like that. Not at all! It is not like that everywhere, certainly it was not like that before. The normal part we will let everyone to decide.
Stress and Time Constraints
The fast-paced nature of modern life can result in higher stress levels and time constraints for individuals. As people feel rushed or overwhelmed, they may prioritize efficiency over friendly interactions. In such circumstances, acts of politeness and courtesy might be seen as secondary, leading to a decline in friendly manners. Have you held lately a door for someone? How was the response? If you live in a small community, with high probability you will be at least thanked for the kind gesture, in fast paced, rush hour, big city environment, to get a smurk it would be an accomplishment. How about driving on bumper to bumper highways? Not enjoyable for most people, I don’t know anyone who enjoys being stuck in traffic. What do we associate with pleasant road trips, stuck on a major highway or country road cruise? Exactly! Big crowds, big noise, time constrains cause stress levels to go up and therefor our fuses get shorter, translating to some rude comments, unpleasant behaviour, terrible hand gestures.
Cultural Diversity and Immigration
A topic no one wants to talk about it, yet it is a contributing factor. Canada’s multicultural landscape, enriched by immigration, contributes to a diverse and vibrant society. While diversity is celebrated, it can also pose challenges to maintaining a cohesive set of shared manners and social norms. Cultural differences, language barriers, and varying social expectations may influence perceptions of what is considered polite or friendly behaviour, leading to a sense of erosion in traditional Canadian manners. Let’s leave it at that.
Technology and Digital Communication
The proliferation of technology and the rise of digital communication platforms have transformed the way people interact. While these advancements bring numerous benefits, they can also impact face-to-face interactions. The prevalence of screens and devices can create a distraction, reducing the focus on personal connections and polite behaviour. Canadians are famous for the saying “If you don’t have to say anything positive, don’t say anything at all”! Oh boy, has that changed in the last few years! Social media has brought some of hidden monsters to the surface. Chatrooms are so good as dead, yet comments have evolved in some mean conversations. “No face, no soul” conversations on social media platforms have turned from bad to ugly. Everyone who has kids or is around kids can notice what overexposure to social media and games can do to children behaviour and explicitly to children conversations. Children with high exposure to gaming and social media become more and more antisocial and their speech is impacted tremendously. I remember those children songs “Please and Thank You are magic words….” Kids of today get what? Memes from TikTok, endless scrolling from Instagram, fast paste shooting experience from game consoles and bad commenting on someones achievements! Thankfully, there are still family environments that monitor usage of digital communication among children and parents who encourage their children to communicate in person rather than over text and emoticons.
Generational Shifts and Changing Values
As generations change, so do their values and norms. Younger generations may prioritize different aspects of communication and interaction, which can contribute to the perceived erosion of traditional friendly manners. The influence of globalization, individualism, and evolving societal attitudes may reshape the concept of politeness and alter interpersonal dynamics.
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Preserving Friendly Manners
While the erosion of Canadian friendly manners is a complex issue, efforts can be made to preserve and promote a culture of kindness and respect:
- Education and Awareness: Promote the importance of friendly manners through education, including schools, community initiatives, and public awareness campaigns. Reinforce the value of politeness and courtesy in fostering positive social connections.
- Multicultural Understanding: Encourage intercultural dialogue and understanding to bridge cultural gaps and foster empathy. Embrace the diversity of perspectives and promote inclusive social norms that respect various cultural expressions of politeness.
- Role Modeling: Lead by example by demonstrating friendly manners in daily interactions. Encourage acts of kindness, empathy, and consideration for others, regardless of cultural backgrounds or generational differences.
- Mindfulness and Well-being: Promote mindfulness practices and emphasize the importance of mental well-being. By prioritizing self-care and stress management, individuals can cultivate a positive mindset that enhances friendly interactions.
Knowing what causes cultural change can contribute in improving or at least keeping famous Canadian friendly manners from erosion. What we say and do effects many people around us, like domino effect bad behaviours get passed down to others as well as good and polite behaviour and conduct. So what would it be? We all choose!
The erosion of Canadian friendly manners is a complex issue influenced by changing societal dynamics, stress, immigration, technology, and generational shifts. While there are challenges in maintaining traditional manners, it is essential to foster a culture of kindness, respect, and empathy. By nurturing awareness, understanding, and positive role modelling, Canadians can preserve and promote friendly manners, creating a society where polite and considerate interactions thrive, EH!