Are the Words ‘You’re Welcome’ No Longer ‘Welcome’ in America?
For those of us who are of a certain age the proper response to the phrase "Thank You" has always been "You're Welcome". But has the phrase, "You're Welcome" worn out its "welcome" with those who are much younger than those of us of a "certain age"? And, should we just accept the fact that younger generations have found a better and more succinct response to a good old-fashioned thanking?
Just for reference my "certain age" is on the very tail end of the generation known as Baby Boomers, that's Boomers for short in the vernacular of today's more youthful conversations. Over the past several months I have noticed that when I receive assistance, usually from someone in the service industry, and I offer a heartfelt "Thank You", they don't respond with the customary "You're Welcome".
Now, just to be clear, it's not that they don't offer a response to my expression of gratitude they just don't say "you're welcome" they say, "no problem". And I can tell you as a man entering his 60th decade on the planet, that works for me. But for some of my generational counterparts, it's become an issue.
As someone who is slow on the uptake of popular and unpopular trends, I decided to look online to see if this was just going on in my head or if "no problem" was about to become the next wedge in the "generation gap". That's what they called disagreements between old folks and young folks when I was a young person.
That's when I came across a story on Upworthy.com a site that "Delivers the best of humanity every day". The article I'm going to reference is by Eric Pfeiffer and in the course of Eric's narrative he makes a pretty good case for "no problem" over "you're welcome".
The catalyst for Eric's piece seemed to stem from a Tweet by Tom Nichols way back in 2015.
Based on Tom's Twitter profile he admits he is a Curmudgeon. That I can accept. The fact that he's a "cat guy" I'll have to get used to though. His Tweet made a great point but based on the world we now live in and the societal changes in acceptance and understanding is he still correct?
According to a Redditor, that's a person who contributes to the website Reddit, Mr. Nichols has not "evolved" into the way younger people view gratitude. To paraphrase the Redditor lucasnoahs the perception of "gratitude" has changed over time.
Older people believe "You're Welcome" suggests the act of assisting someone is seen as unexpected. That assistance at the checkout line is extra service. To quote the lucasnoahs response older people think this way, "I accept your thanks because I know I deserve it".
Meanwhile a response of "no problem" seems to suggest that the person offering assistance felt their actions were a given and should be expected. And the response indicates the assistance was in fact not a burden. Again, to quote lucasnoahs "Older people think help is a gift you give, younger people think help is an expectation required of them".
I might lose my Curmudgeon card for this but, I think "no problem" is the better response especially as it plays out in scenarios involving cashiers, waiters, baristas, and other service industry jobs. It's like saying, don't thank me for doing my job that's why I get paid and assisting you required no particular extra effort outside my job description.
I think "you're welcome" should be reserved for thanks that are spawned by unexpected actions that go above and beyond what is considered "normal" in the world of reasonable people.
How do you feel about the issue? Is "You're Welcome" about to go the way of the Dodo Bird and become extinct from our language? How do you feel when someone says "no problem" when you thank them for their service? And where does Chick-fil-A fit into the discussion with their "my pleasure" response?
Maybe it's best we just don't talk at all and only communicate with texts on our phones and messages on our apps. At least we can appreciate the quietness of it all.
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