Modern Etiquette: Are "Taboo Topics" Still a Thing?

Modern Etiquette: Are "Taboo Topics" Still a Thing?

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Eleanor Büsing
Aug 31, 2015
(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

The other week, after reading yet another vaguely shame-y "how to behave in your 30s" article on some blog or another, I got to thinking about conversation etiquette and how it's changed over the generations. It was once commonly accepted that topics such as money, religion, and politics were not discussed in polite company. But today's culture of online sharing (and occasionally over-sharing) has created a different dynamic, so do the rules still apply?

Social media has created a new transparency about everything under the sun, from mundane topics to the big, important ones. In an era of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you likely already know how your friend votes, or where that colleague stands on a certain issue, or how religious a family member is. Without even bringing them up around the dinner table, these once-private topics are increasingly public.

And surely this is (mostly) a good thing? In the case of politics, in particular, I've always believed that we should be talking more about it, not less. Religion and money are somewhat trickier (probably not topics for post-work drinks with your boss, but you never know), but certainly not permanently off-limits.

Among my friends, these topics account for some of our more interesting and lively conversations. It's not like we sit around swapping bank balances or preaching gospel, but we talk a lot about things like negotiating raises, our belief systems or lack thereof, and which candidates we'll be supporting come election day.

Because of this tendency to talk about anything and everything, I've always considered myself an open book, especially since much of my career happens right here on the world wide web. But a quick glance at my own social media feeds reveals... not a whole heck of a lot, actually. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram and all you'll learn is that a) I like brunch, b) I'm obsessed with my brand new niece, and c) I'm what Caitlin Moran calls a "strident feminist," none of which are taboo or even all that interesting. So I suppose some things are still private, or at least reserved for a certain audience.

Do you celebrate the breaking down of rules surrounding "polite" conversation? Or should some things remain private? How much do you share on social media, and how well do you have to know someone before you'll debate any of those once-taboo topics? Chime in below!

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