Sasha Sagan talks with actor-director LILY RABE about a supposedly heartwarming tradition that strikes terror and shame into both their hearts.

We’ll also hear from DR. ANDREA VOYER, a sociologist and historian of social norms at Stockholm University, about her research using etiquette as a lens on changing societies.


LILY RABE: Haven’t you ever gotten a text, or an email, that makes you so happy and moves you and sort of stops you in place? And because you let yourself bask in that feeling…

SASHA SAGAN: Yes. You don’t reply.

LR: You don’t respond immediately. And then like sometimes, oops, it’s two weeks later. And you’re like, Oh, my God, not only did I not respond, but I didn’t respond to this thing that meant so much to me. But I actually wanted to have the experience of loving what this person said. But in doing that, I’ve actually been silent and terribly rude, and it’s, it’s, it’s…it’s difficult.

SS: I’m sitting here with my mouth agape. There should be a word for this, because I experience this all the time, where you get like a really long, beautiful email or text, and I don’t have time to reply to the level that this deserves right at this moment. And sometimes heartbreakingly it just falls through the cracks and you don’t reply. Probably in German, there’s a word for this.


DR. ANDREA VOYER: I’ve got 21 editions of [Emily Post’s Etiquette] over 100 years. And in almost every edition, the author will point out that the older generation of this time is saying that the younger people are ruining everything.


SASHA SAGAN: What do you think the future of manners and etiquette in this culture is? What do you see in the edition of etiquette in 20 or 30 years?

AV:  One of my pet projects that I would really like to do is not leave it up to me to figure this out. But I have the idea it might be fun to try to train an algorithm based on the 100 years of books I have, to write the next one.

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