12 of Society’s Unspoken Social Rules Everyone Should Follow
The phrase “common knowledge” does not mean what it used to. In 1985, it was “common knowledge” that you didn’t talk politics at the dinner table or that you held the door for a woman or elderly person. As society’s mores have slipped and transformed, there are 12 particular unspoken rules we must remind everyone to follow — no exceptions!
Table of Contents
1. Don’t Ask a Woman When She Is Due
She is either pregnant, in which case you could have quickly asked one of her acquaintances (risk-free!) about the pregnancy. Or, she’s not pregnant, in which case you can’t ever speak to that person again.
2. You Don’t Have to Share Your Tragic Experience—Let Others Grieve
For example, if you visit an island that a natural disaster has just ravaged, you don’t have to discuss that modest fire that singed your kitchen decades ago. You can just say you’re sorry for their loss and offer to help.
3. Stay in the Right-Hand Lane Unless Passing
This rule is written in your driver’s education test but should be discussed more often. Some states like Florida are even proposing legislation that would make it illegal to clog the left-hand lane. Sometimes, the rule that you should only use the left lane when passing is spoken. Another motorist may scream, “Move over, idiot!” as they zoom by you in the right-hand lane.
4. Just Say Thank You
When someone says you look slimmer or your nail polish accentuates your eyes, just say thanks. You don’t need to throw a compliment back at the complimenter. When you do, the latter compliment feels forced and obligatory rather than genuine. If you want to compliment someone who always has something nice to say, beat them to it next time. If you’re not first, just say thank you.
6. Jog When Someone Holds the Door for You
We know you can open the door for yourself, but we’re doing our part to uphold the ancient codes of civilized society by holding it for you. While we’d gladly wait the extra 20 seconds as you stroll towards the entryway, do that little arm-pumping half-jog thing. The cool air is rushing outside with each passing second — even if it wasn’t, the semi-jog is just part of the door-holding deal.
7. Some Events Are Not Suitable for Instagram
We never thought we’d have to explain that a funeral is not a good time for a selfie or that the wreckage from a car accident does not belong on Facebook. Yet, here we are. In these situations, just leave your phone in your pocket.
8. Cutting the Line Is Sometimes Fine
We’re not talking about the psychopaths who drive on the shoulder to avoid a traffic jam. Unless your wife is going into labor or someone has suffered a life-threatening wound, driving on the shoulder is grounds for Gulag-style imprisonment. When you have a cart full of groceries and the person behind you has a carton of eggs and a package of Milanos, let them cut in front of you. We live in a society, and it’s the right thing to do.
9. Mix in a Compliment With Your Constructive Criticism
Whether you’re a father, teacher, boss, sibling, friend, or anyone else in a position of respect, mix in a compliment occasionally. If someone perceives that you’re always dishing out critiques without acknowledging someone’s value, resentment can build. You might call it soft, but people need to hear positive words. For example, you might say, “You’re the bane of my existence, but those shoes are super fly.”
10. Don’t Stare
People face enough challenges, and they’re acutely aware of whatever deformity or oddity you’re inclined to stare at. Treat them normally, and avert your eyes if you have to. Whatever you do, don’t stare, and teach your kids to do the same. Sharing is caring. Staring is the polar opposite.
11. Call the Baby Cute
It could be the ugliest baby you’ve ever seen in your life. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Elephant Man of babies. Tell the parents it’s the cutest child you’ve ever seen, and say it like you mean it.
12. Borat Quotes Are No Longer Acceptable
I enjoy a “not!” joke as much as anyone, but it’s been a decade and a half since Borat hit theaters. Randomly blurting “my wiiife” or “very niiice” doesn’t crack the smiles it used to. We’re no longer accepting Borat quotes in polite society. Someone had to let you know.