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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Trump’s Vulgarity, Talking About Death + Shyness

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 

At NewportManners this week questions to Didi Lorillard about etiquette and manners ranged from What to tell teens about the president's vulgarity and new ways to talk about death, to How to help a painfully shy girlfriend and What's hot for a Valentine's Gift.

Trump's Profanity Is Ill-Mannered and Poor Etiquette

Q.  What do you tell your teenagers when they ask you why the president of the United States gets away with using foul language and having sex with prostitutes when they're not allowed to use vulgar words?  EL, Providence

A.  To quote the New York Times, "Trump has turned the culture wars upside down." It's blowback. We're revisiting the naughty nineties, a decade of sexual scandals and cultural upheavals. In Michael Wolfe's book Fire and Fury, Steve Bannon is quoted as telling the author about Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz: "Kasowitz on the campaign  -- what did we have, a hundred women? Kasowitz took care of all of them." 

We have a president who paid off a porn star for sex while his new wife was having his baby! (Don't tell your teens that.) We are living in a brutal sexual culture. Clearly, talking straight about sex to your teens is necessary, and, yet, you don't want to sensationalize bad behavior.

 

The Taboo of Outing Death

Q. My girlfriend has become radically dark. She talks about death even though she's healthy and she's only 24. I love her, but when she goes darkish, it scares me. I don't like to hear her talking about death all the time, What do I do?  AG, Portland, OR

A.  There is a mindfulness app for that. As a Valentine's gift, for 99 cents a month, sign your girlfriend up to receive WeCroak. Each day she'll be randomly sent five chilling reminders that death is inevitable. The subject line will say something such as, "Death Makes You Happy," to remind her that time on earth is indefinite and has an expiration date. The theory is based on Bhutanese folklore that proclaims that to be truly happy we ought to think about death five times a day. Contemplating death is supposed to help one get a grip on life when faced with mortality.

They say talking about death helps people find inner peace.

According to the New York Times, talking about death is trending when apps such as WeCroak reminds over nine thousand users five times a day that they can find inner peace by reminding them that they're going to die through the words of, perhaps, the Zen poet Gary Snyder. Mostly in their twenties and thirties, they're breaking the taboo of talking about death. The reminders arrive "at random times and at any moment just like death," writes Bianca Bosker in The Atlantic.

If your girlfriend is using her iPhone as a source for clarity and peace, instead of as a stressful distraction, WeCroak could make her happier. According to a survey by the research firm Discout, your girlfriend may be trying to get away from checking her phone 76 (the average) times a day (roughly about two and a half hours), in the hope of finding the here and now. 

Bosker concluded: "Amid growing concerns over phone fixation, Silicon Valley has, in typical fashion, proposed technology as the solution; there are now more than 1,000 mindfulness apps designed to help us disconnect."

Other mindfulness apps:

  • Headpeace: which has been downloaded over 18 million times, provides mediation sessions led by a former Buddhist monk.
  • Calm: this app is all about guided mediation with soothing soundtracks and has had over 14 million downloads.

 

Great Valentine's Gift for Him

Q.  My husband is a successful investment banker who has everything. I never know what to get him. Any ideas? HD, Brooklyn

A.  How about Bitcoin cufflinks, if he's into cryptocurrency. You can find them on Amazon. I don't know if Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, actually wears Bitcoin cufflinks, but you can find them on Amazon made of wood, like this pair, as well as in various metals.

 

Shyness Is Old-Fashioned

Q.  My girl is extremely shy and fears people, she can't even look me in the eyes but claims to love me so much to the extent of boasting to her friends that I'm hers ... Is this normal, and is there a way I can help her boost her confidence??  SF, Kenya

A.  Why not buy her a pair of hoop earrings to show off to her friends. When she wears them she may feel empowered with pride. 

More importantly, talk to her. Tell her about your feelings for her.  Say that you want her to look you in the eyes when she speaks to you and to listen with her eyes when you are telling her something. She can break the habit of not making eye contact if you instill in her the fact that eye contact is a powerful way to communicate. When she talks to someone she has strong feelings toward, she should back up her words with eye contact.

Eye contact is a kind of intimacy that develops over time when there is genuine trust on both sides.

My hunch is that she's shy about having sex. You can't assume from anyone's behavior that they are consenting to having sex. Your girlfriend needs to feel safe about her feelings. Sex is performance based. She may not understand how to talk about sex or how to decide whether to consent or not. You and she need a more nuanced understanding of consent. Verbal and visual signs are significant indicators. Talk about sex openly. No subject should be off limits.   

 

Great Valentine's Gift for Him

Q.  My husband is a successful investment banker who has everything. I never know what to get him. Any ideas? HD, Brooklyn

A.  How about Bitcoin cufflinks, if he's into cryptocurrency. You can find them on Amazon. I don't know if Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, actually wears Bitcoin cufflinks, but you can find them on Amazon made of wood, like this pair, as well as in various metals.

Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book.

 

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