Occasionally, the teens who occupy my table question whether or not they should be required to practice manners which seem arbitrary standards of culture. In making such a protest, they reflect their culture which increasingly rejects formality.
Why is it that we are becoming increasingly less formal?
Ken Myers suggests one reason why our culture favors being less formal.
My favorite example of this is the shift since the 1970s toward informality in public. People used to wear coats and ties to go to a baseball game, and now they wear a ball cap at church. We’ve moved away from formality toward informality in almost every area—language, dance, food, worship, music—and I’m convinced that it’s largely a symptom of a suspicion of authority. You don’t want to submit to a set of standards and proprieties that you didn’t freely choose yourself. So if the move toward informality expresses a widespread suspicion of authority, then why would that be a good, up-to-the-minute trend to endorse?