This 86-year-old woman’s polite internet etiquette will make you smile.
It’s one of the earliest social lessons children learn in life: the power of those magic words, “please” and “thank you.” But as we grow up and use them on a daily basis they can begin to sound a little diluted and perfunctory—are we truly, deeply thankful for that 80th email from a coworker? Are we really being grateful when we tack please on to the end of our salad orders? Maybe not.
As a result, we often forget the power of these small courtesies. And maybe even forget to add that quick “please” at all, especially in a world that moves at the thumb-flying speed of teenage texting. Social graces are a bit fewer and farther between these days.
So last week when 86-year-old British grandma, May Ashworth, entered an incredibly polite search into her Google browser, it caused a little wave of courtesy, delight, and gratitude to wash over the web.
Mrs. Ashworth’s grandson, Ben, discovered her search request when he went to visit her. The grandmother, wanting a Roman to Arabic numeral conversion, had typed in: “Please translate these Roman numerals MCMXCVIII thank you.” The octogenarian believed her internet search was being sent to an actual person at Google HQ. Finding this very amusing Ben took a photo of her computer screen and tweeted her polite request.
In return, Google UK thanked “Ben’s nan” saying: “In a world of billions of searches, yours made us smile. “Oh, and it’s 1998,” it added. “Thank YOU.” And Google’s official Twitter account sent its own tweet: “Dear Grandma, No thanks necessary (smiley face).”
She made readers everywhere giggle, and reminded us that even in a world of lightening quick technology, manners go a long way. Especially when we bemoan the increasing lack of manners in others; when people walk by as you hold open the door without acknowledging you, or when our own kids don’t thank us for their meals, or their clean laundry. Pleases and thank-yous might not make the news headlines every day, but they do make a difference.
So maybe, just for today, to honor Mrs. Ashworth, we could all type “pleases” and “thank-yous” into our preferred search engines: No magic words, no search results!